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A combined team of security personnel in Abia on Thursday foiled an alleged attempt by irate youths to break into the Afara Custodial Centre, Umuahia.
A senior officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the command was alerted by authorities of the centre, located in the same neighbourhood that protesters were threatening to attack the centre.
He said that the operatives mingled with the hoodlums who were plotting to attack the centre in order to set the inmates free.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the NSCDC personnel said that the command immediately deployed its men to reinforce the armed squad of the centre to ward off the protesters.
He said: “What happened was that hoodlums infiltrated the protesters and were moving toward the custodial centre.
“At that point, the armed operatives of the centre started firing shots into the air to repel the group.
“Our men later joined them, while a detachment of police, alongside army personnel, came to reinforce the operation.
“Our men barricaded the Golden Guinea Breweries end of the Aba Road to restrict vehicular and human movements, while the police and army blocked the point of the road leading to Old Timber shed.”
He further said that the operation to disperse the group was still on, saying that the security operatives were still shooting into the air and firing teargas at the group.
“Whenever we notice that they have regrouped, we use teargas and also fire some shots into the air to disperse them.
“The operation will continue as long as the protest persists,” the source said.
The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Godfrey Ogbonna, confirmed the plot to attack the Custodial Centre to NAN, saying, “the police collaborated with other sister security agencies to foil the attempt.”
Meanwhile, heavily armed anti-riot police operatives were deployed to strategic locations and major junctions in Umuahia metropolis to enforce the state government’s curfew.
As a result bank customers who went to withdraw money through the automated teller machines were stranded, following the inability of the machines to dispense cash in all the banks visited.
An elderly woman, who claimed to be 78, said she came to the bank on Wednesday and Thursday to withdraw money to buy her prescribed medicines without success.
A security man in one of the banks said that bank workers could not come to work because of the restriction in movement due to the curfew.
The government had imposed a curfew on Aba and Umuahia to check the rampaging protesters, who turned violent on Tuesday.
Abia Government alleged that hoodlums had hijacked the protest against police brutality, which was originally peaceful.