Aregbesola: 'Escapee prisoners can only run, they cannot hide'

The minister promises that the federal government will secure custodial centres better.

L-R: Minister of Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma visit the police facility attacked by gunmen on Monday, April 5, 2021 (Interior Ministry)

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has said that the federal government will leave no stone unturned in fishing out the criminals who attacked law enforcement agencies in Imo State last Monday, while also promising to better secure custodial facilities across the country.

Aregbesola stated this when he inspected the Nigeria Correctional Service, NCoS, Owerri Custodial Centre which was attacked by unknown gunmen who forcefully released a total of 1,844 inmates in custody.

“The federal government will react appropriately by going after these criminals and make them face the full wrath of the law. We will leave no stone unturned in fishing them out.

“Make no mistake, they will be hunted to the ends of the earth. They can only run, but they cannot hide. We shall bring them to justice, or in the alternative, take justice to them,” Aregbesola fumed.

The Minister was accompanied to the centre by the Acting Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service, John Mrabure and other heads of security agencies in the state.

The Minister who also visited the Command Headquarters of the service stated that additional security will be provided for all custodial centres henceforth, for the safety of personnel and inmates and security of the facilities.

In a statement titled, ‘the criminals will be brought to justice’, the minister commiserated with the government and people of Imo and Imo State Commissioner of Police, on the sad and unfortunate developments.

Recall that the gunmen had also sacked the Command Headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force, which lies just meters away from the NCoS headquarters, during the early morning attack.

“During the #ENDSARS riots of late last year, there were coordinated attacks on custodial centres in Edo State, while an unsuccessful attempt was made in Lagos. Thus, a pattern of syndicated attacks on custodial centres is emerging.

“From the preliminary report on the attacks, it is the worst of such ever witnessed in living memory. Unprovoked attacks on the institutions of state, especially the law enforcement institutions, are nothing short of a declaration of war on the Nigerian state and her people.

“Attacking police headquarters could only have been intentioned to cripple the Nigerian state and stop it from its duty of protecting the lives and property of the people.

"While the attack on a custodial centre and forcible freeing of inmates was meant to imperil law abiding citizens with possible harm that could come to them from hardened criminals on the loose.

“These acts therefore are capable of unleashing anarchy and gravely imperil the lives and property of the Nigerian people. The perpetrators are without doubt the enemies of the people and should be treated as such," Aregbesola said.

The minister advised all escaped inmates to voluntarily return to custody. Those who heed this call will be given amnesty, he added.

He also urged all correctional officers to be vigilant and take the security of the facilities and the inmates seriously, while assuring the people of Imo State, and indeed all Nigerians, of the commitment of the federal government to the protection of lives and property and maintenance of law and order.

Ogbeni Aregbesola also called on citizens with useful information on the perpetrators of the dastardly acts and escaped inmates to inform the nearest law enforcement agency post nearest to them.


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