#EndSARS: Obaseki gives Friday ultimatum to escaped inmates to return
•163 recaptured, six returned, 1,818 at large
Governor, Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has given the inmates who escaped from the Benin Medium Security Correctional Centre, Sapele Road and the Oko Medium Security Correctional Centre up till Friday, October 23 to return voluntarily or face the wrath of the law.
The governor gave the three-day ultimatum in Benin on Wednesday while on an assessment tour of the facilities in company of the the Controller of Correction, Edo State Command, Babayo Maisanda, who announced that six out of the 1,993 inmates who escaped during the jail breaks had voluntarily returned
It would be recalled that some hoodlums who highjacked the peaceful #EndSARS protest in the state had on Monday attacked the two Correctional Centres and freed the inmates after unleashing terror on the facilities, its personnel and their properties, mostly, vehicles.
Maisanda announced the assessment tour of the facilities that 163 of the inmates had been recaptured, with six voluntarily returning and 1,818 still at large.
Governor Obaseki, who expressed shock at the level of destructions visited on the prisons yards and the police stations torched by the hoodlums, was accompanied on the assessment tour 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.
He lamented that the extent of destruction was massive, adding that it was against the spirit of the genuine EndSARS protesters that went about their protests in a peaceful manner.
The government, Obaseki vowed, 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 willingly turn themselves up at the Edo State Command of the Nigeria Police Force, Benin City for onward transmission to the correctional centres.
“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”, the governor noted.
According to the visibly dazed governor, “you can tell that there were some criminal intentions behind these acts and the EndSARS protest in Edo was hijacked by criminals and they used the opportunity to come and release their colleagues who were held in our correctional centres.”
“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”, he promised.
The governor expressed joy that the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, understood the gravity of what had happened in the state and had asked the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, DIG, 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”, he further enthused.
Obaseki thanked the citizens of the state for being law-abiding and remaining calm while different parts of the state were being attacked in the guise of EndSARS protest.
“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”, he pleaded, adding that “If they come in and go to the Nigeria Police Force Command headquarters in Benin City, nothing will be done to them”.
Governor Obaseki, however, warned that “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.”
Mr Maisanda, Controller of Correction, Edo State Command, who gave the statistics of the inmates said that the Medium Security Correctional Centre in Oko currently has 182 inmates with 28 of them from Farm Centre, while the MSCC, Sapele Road has 15 inmates.
He called for urgent steps to further secure and enhance repairs to the damaged facilities to secure the inmates already captured.
“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 injuries are receiving treatments at various hospitals in Benin City”, the Controller disclosed.
Also, speaking, DIG Okoye, said the police was doing its best to arrest some of the hoodlums that attacked the police facilities and the Correctional Centres.
“Some arrests have been 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”, he pleaded.