The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) has appealed to Nigerians with useful information on the fleeing inmates from the Benin prison in Edo state to help recapture the prisoners.
The Service confirmed that its Custodial Centres at Benin and Oko in Benin City were attacked Monday morning by suspected protesters under the #ENDSARS protest, freeing inmates legally interned by courts of competent jurisdiction.
In a statement signed Monday in Abuja by its Public Relations Officer Augustine Njoku, the NCoS said the exact figures of escapees and casualties were yet to be confirmed and would be communicated after preliminary investigations.
“The Service, however, is calling on all Nigerians with useful information that will lead to the recapturing of fleeing inmates to report to any nearest Custodial Centres, Police station or any other security agency.
“Efforts are underway to arrest the situation and return normalcy back to the Centres. The Armed Squad Personnel of the Service is working tirelessly to bring the situation under control.
“The public is therefore enjoined to go about their businesses in a peaceful manner, resist and shun attempts of being used to destabilize the peace in the state by destructing individual and public institutions,” Njoku said.
The statement noted that Controller General of Corrections Ja’afaru Ahmed under the supervision of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has commenced the full implementation of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019 signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari which provides for far reaching reforms in Criminal Justice Administration in the following areas;
“Massive and continuous decongestion of Custodial Centres across the country where more than 10,000 inmates have so far been released.
“Upgrade in infrastructural facilities in NCoS with the construction of a 3,000-capacity custodial centres in each the 6 geopolitical zones of the country and the rehabilitation of existing ones.
“Upgrade in the logistics capability of the Service and so far more that 450 operational vehicles has been procured to ensure speedy dispensation of justice.
“Implementation of the non-custodial measures as provided in NCoS Act, 2019 whereby inmates can be sentenced to various terms of community service where they are not confined in the custodial centers to serve their sentences.
“The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to securing the lives and properties of all Nigerians and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring adequate dispensation of justice for all.”
Edo declares 24-hour curfew
And in a response to the jailbreak, the Edo state government has imposed a 24-hour curfew across the state till further notice.
A statement issued by Secretary to the State Government Osarodion Ogie said the curfew took effect from 4pm, October 19, 2020.
The statement explained that the decision became necessary “because of the very disturbing incidents of vandalism and attacks on private individuals and institutions by hoodlums in the guise of #ENDSARS protesters.
“While the government of Edo State respects the rights of its citizens to undertake legitimate protests, it cannot sit idly when hoodlums have taken laws into their hands to cause mayhem on innocent citizens and the state.
“Parents are advised to rein in their children, youths and wards, to forestall further breakdown of law and order.
“The responsibility of government is to protect lives and property and maintain law and order; therefore, anyone found outside in violation of the curfew would be dealt with according to the law.”
Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, others blocked
Meanwhile, the #EndSARS protesters Monday blocked the Lagos- Ibadan expressway and other major roads in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.
As early as in the hours of the day, the protesters stormed the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Challenge area, Iwo road, Sango, Ojoo and other areas of the town in continuation of the protest.
The protesters were said to have observed vigil at some sports in Ibadan before heading for the Lagos- Ibadan expressway, Iwo road, and other points for the continuation of the protest.
It was however complaint galore as hundreds of commuters across the state were subjected to series of hardships as they were stranded at various roads across Ibadan.
The blockage of the roads forced private and commercial vehicles off the roads mostly in Challenge, Toll Gate, Iwo road, Agodi Gate, Eleyele, U.I – Ojoo Road, Beere-Mapo and Secretariat-Sango-Bodija among other routes in Ibadan.
However, it was learnt that that the situation was better in other parts of the state, especially in Oyo town, Ogbomoso, Iseyin and Saki as there were free movement of vehicles and people.
As at the time of sending this report, the protesters were insisting there would be no going back on the protest until the government meets all their demands, especially the much-needed reform of the Nigeria Police Force.
Protest continues in Kano
Similarly, the #EndSARS protest continued in Kano Monday with protesters brandishing anti-Buhari placards, calling for the president’s resignation.
The demonstrators in their large numbers were sighted by Blueprint along the Airport Road, the road leading to the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, with the placards bearing various inscriptions.
The development has made many residents of the ancient city to suspect some foul play on the part of the demonstrators, who many believed; their action was politically-motivated.
However, one of the protesters was overheard by one of our correspondents saying, “we are not only protesting against the existence of SARS, we are also calling on the president to resign.
“Our country is on the brink of abyss in the face of the gross ineptitude and the lame-duck posture of the presidency. We need a total restructuring of the country for all that was rotten to be rectified.”
One of the protesters, Uche Uzeokeme, said the disbanded SARS had ruthlessly brutalised humanity with levity by over-stepping its bound and the mandate given to the squad to guard against robbing innocent citizens, positing that even the introduction of SWAT was not enough to calm frayed nerves.
Reacting to the protest, a Kano-based public affairs commentator, Malam Aminu Idriss Fagge said the protestors had no justifiable premise to continue the protest, considering the fact that the federal government had succumbed to pressure.
Fagge said protesters’ action was a subtle ploy aimed at eliciting the Intervention of external forces, most especially “the most bellicose imperialist powers like the United States of America to chip in. It will be catastrophic for the federal government to allow such protests to continue.”