1,993 inmates were freed from the Benin and Oko custodial facilities, Edo State, by suspected hoodlums on Monday, the Nigerian Government said in a statement on Tuesday.
The statement said most of the inmates held at the centres are convicted criminals serving terms for various criminal offences, awaiting execution or standing trial for violent crimes.
Their release is a threat to national and communal security, it said.
Suspected hoodlums had attacked the Benin City and Oko prisons on Monday, freeing the inmates.
They also looted the armoury of a nearby police station, taking away five rifles.
The police said 12 suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident while the stolen rifles have been recovered.
The statement read, “Two NCoS custodial centres in Benin City and Oko in Edo State were attacked yesterday (Monday) by protesters purportedly under the #ENDSARS aegis, freeing (at the last count) 1,993 inmates in legal custody and looting the centres, including the weapons in their armoury.”
“They came in large numbers, bearing dangerous weapons and attacked the officers on guard duty. They were unmistakable on their mission, which was to force the cells open, free the inmates and carry out other nefarious activities.
“Investigation has commenced to determine the full impact of the attack.”
The government said while peaceful protests were legitimate and guaranteed as a fundamental right of citizens, criminality should be condemned.