Three months after 1,993 inmates escaped from Benin and Oko Correctional Centres in Edo State, only 88 of the fugitives have been arrested by security operatives across the country. New Telegraph recalls that at the height of the nationwide #EndSARS protests in October, suspected hoodlums had invaded the Oko and Benin facilities, freeing a total of 1,993 inmates.
The Federal Government had said that many of the escapees were condemned inmates, whose escape constituted serious threat to national security. Informed security operatives, who spoke in confidence with this newspaper, said 21 of the escapees were recaptured, while 29 voluntarily returned to Oko centre.
It was also gathered that 12 of them were recaptured and returned to the facility in Benin, the state capital, with 26 returnees. One of the sources, who spoke in confidence, said: “Total number of escapes recaptured from Minimum Security Correctional Centre in Oko (Recaptured, 21, returnees 29).
“From Benin Medium Correctional Centre we have 12 recaptured and 26 returnees”. Another source noted that “one lodger at Medium Security Correctional Centre in Auchi in the same state returned, totalling 89.”
It will be further recalled that eight days after the #EndSARS protests, 40 of the escapees were “recovered”. While the Oko facility had taken back 19 of the escapees as at then, the Benin centre recovered 21. The Federal Government had said that, apart from setting the inmates free, the facilities’ armoury was “looted”. This was as it also disclosed that most of the inmates were “serving terms for various criminal offences, awaiting execution or standing trial for violent crimes.
“The integrity of the custodial centres is, therefore, fundamental to justice. Inmates of the centres are expected to pay their dues to society, undergo reformation and be reintegrated into society as changed-for-better persons.
“Their being let loose gravely imperils lives and property. It is an unacceptable and intolerable threat to national and communal security,” the Federal Government said. It added that “Government’s primary duty is to protect lives and property and keep the people safe. “We shall not be shirking in our responsibility and we shall not disappoint the people.”