The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has given escapees from the Benin Medium Security Correctional Centre and Oko Medium Security Correctional Centre on Friday to return voluntarily or face the wrath of the law.
Following Monday’s jailbreaks in the two centres by hoodlums, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) disclosed that 1,993 inmates escaped from their facilities.
Mr Obaseki went on an assessment tour of the affected NCoS centres and the police stations that were burnt in Benin City by the hoodlums. He was accompanied by his deputy, Philip Shaibu; a deputy inspector-general of police, Celestine Okoye; the state commissioner of police, Johnson Kokumo; representatives of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Federal Road Safety Corps, among others.
However, the controller of corrections, Edo State Command, Babayo Maisanda, revealed on Wednesday that 1,818 inmates were still at large, while 163 have been re-arrested and six have returned voluntarily.
Speaking at the end of the on-the-spot assessment, Mr Obaseki lamented that the extent of destruction was massive, adding that it was against the spirit of genuine #EndSARS protesters that went about their protests in a peaceful manner.
The governor said the government would not sit down and watch hoodlums operate in such a manner, adding that the attacks on the security facilities were orchestrated by criminally minded people.
He, therefore, warned the escapees to turn themselves in at the Edo State Command of the Nigeria Police Force in Benin City for them to be returned to the correctional centres.
Mr Obaseki said, “You will agree with me that this is not in the spirit of the #EndSARS protest. This is sheer criminality while the real protesters were focusing on the reform of our policing system and not to destroy government property, destroy prisons, and release inmates.
“So, you can tell that there were some criminal intentions behind these acts and the #EndSARS protest in Edo was hijacked by criminal and they used the opportunity to come and release their colleagues who were held in our correctional centre.
“We condemn the act wholeheartedly and we expect that even the #EndSARS protesters would join us in condemning this dastardly act. The government cannot sit down and fold its arms to allow the breakdown of law and order in our society because everybody would be affected and having undertaken the assessment and seen the extent of destruction that has taken place, we would now move swiftly into action.
“Fortunately, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, understanding the gravity of what has happened in Edo has asked the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Celestine Okoye, to come to Benin to put the situation under control. We are also fortunate that the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces has allowed the military to join the police in stabilising the situation to bring things under control.
“I want to use this situation to thank the law-abiding citizens of the state for having the presence of mind call while different parts of the state were being attacked in the guise of EndSARS protest. What we have a problem with are hooliganism and sheer brigandage and that we will not accept or tolerate in Edo State.
“We know that some of the inmates may have been released by their plan and others used the opportunity to get out of the facilities. We are using this opportunity to appeal to all inmates in our correctional services who have escaped to come back on their own before the close of business on Friday, this week.
“If they come in and go to the Nigeria Police Force Command headquarters in Benin City, nothing will be done to them. However, those who do not report back after Friday night, we have all their records, we have their biometrics, we would go after them and ensure that we bring them and the appropriate sanction will be meted against them.”
Return of inmates
According to Mr Maisanda, controller of corrections, Edo State Ccommand, 1,818 inmates are still at large, while 163 have either been recaptured or secured.
He said the Medium Security Correctional Centre (MSCC) in Oko currently has 182 inmates, with 28 of them from Farm Centre, while the MSCC, Sapele Road has 15 inmates.
Mr Maisanda said there was an urgent need to further secure and enhance repairs to the damaged facilities to secure the inmates already captured.
He said, “It is pertinent to note that all efforts of securing our facilities for over six hours of the siege were solely by the men and officers of the correctional service.
“Currently, 10 officers who sustained various degrees of life-threatening injury are receiving treatments at various hospitals in Benin City.”
He expressed appreciation for the concern shown by the governor, Mr Obaseki, and called for his assistance and support in this period to keep the prison system operational.
Also, Mr Okoye, a deputy inspector-general of police, said the police was doing its best to arrest some of the hoodlums that attacked the police facilities and the NCoS.
Mr Okoye said, “Some arrests have made, we will still get them. They even tried to enter the police command headquarters but they were repelled. We are doing our best. We will get them, just calm down.”
Source: Premium Times