Gunmen free more than 200 prisoners in Nigerian jailbreak

Gunmen have freed more than 200 prisoners in Nigeria’s latest jailbreak, according to police.

Officers recaptured at least 10 escapees from the medium security prison at Tunga, in central Niger state, by Sunday morning, Deputy Superintendent Ibrahim Gambari said.

Saturday’s attack was the third in the past two months in the West African nation, where jailbreaks are frequent and police only capture a fraction of those who escape.

More than 300 inmates broke out of a prison bombed by gunmen in southwest Ekiti state on December 1st, while 144 escaped from south-central Kogi state on November 3rd when gunmen bombed a prison wall.

The two earlier jailbreaks were blamed on the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group. It is not known how many hundreds of Boko Haram suspects are held in Nigerian jails.

The vast majority of people held in Nigerian jails have never been charged and are awaiting trial, some of them for many years, even though it is illegal to hold someone for more than 48 hours without bringing charges or presenting them to a magistrate.

Only 18,042 of 56,785 inmates have been convicted of a crime, according to statistics dated June 30 and posted on the website of the Nigeria Prisons Service.

Officials have spoken about how appalled they are about conditions in the jails, where inmates often sleep on cement floors without mattresses or bedding, food is in short supply and most medical services are non-existent.

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