Prisoners of Benin Medium Security Correctional Centre and Oko Medium Security Correctional Centre who escaped from the facilities on Monday, October 19, have been given till Friday, October 23 to return voluntarily or face the wrath of the law.
Governor Godwin Obaseki gave the ultimatum while 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.
Obaseki who stated that his government would not sit down and watch hoodlums operate in such a manner, added that the attacks on the security facilities were orchestrated by criminally minded people.
“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.”