…says armoury ‘looted’
The Federal Government has said that at least, 1,993 inmates escaped from the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) Custodial Centres in Benin City and Oko in Edo State during Monday’s protest in the ancient city.
It said the violent attacks had also culminated in the carting away of assorted weapons from the central’ armoury. The disclosure was made in a statement by the spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Mohammed Manga.
This is a fallout of ongoing protests by #End- SARS agitators, which may have been hijacked by suspected hoodlums in some cities. It would be recalled that the NCoS had, in its immediate response to the jailbreak, said it was yet to ascertain the number of fleeing inmates from the attack.
According to the statement:”They (hoodlums) came in large number, 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. “The situation has been brought under control while security in and around the custodial centres nationwide has been beefed up. Investigation has commenced to determine the full impact of the attack”.
While recognising the fact that peaceful protest was legitimate and guaranteed as a fundamental right of citizens, the government frowned on attacks on a custodial centre or any other infrastructure for that matter, saying such “is a criminal act which detracts from the advertised objectives of the movement and capable of imputing impure motives to its drivers”.
This was as it reiterated the fact that the custodial centres remained high security zones, adding that, “the primary duty of the institution is to keep custody of convicted criminals and awaiting trial suspects; this comes before their reformation. It is integral to the justice administration system”. It continued: “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 changedfor- better persons.
When this process is disrupted in any way, the integrity of justice and societal renewal is subverted, with dire and unimaginable consequences. “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 being let loose gravely imperils lives and property. It is an unacceptable and intolerable threat to national and communal security. 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.
“We urge the #ENDSARS protesters to remain peaceful, embrace dialogue, screen their rank and file and flush out those with criminal intents and, more importantly, steer clear of the custodial centres.”
Nonetheless, the statement assured the public, especially Edo State residents, that in conjunction with other security agencies, “we have commenced the tracking and apprehension of all the escaped inmates before they do any harm”.
It, therefore, appealed to anyone who noticed any person or persons that might have escaped from the custodial centres to, as a patriotic duty, report to the nearest security agency for prompt action.