There appears to be some momentary confusion over what becomes of over one thousand suspected looters arrested in Lagos, Kwara, Adamawa, Oyo, Ondo, Cross River and Anambra states.
This development has however brought some pressure to bear on the correctional facilities which before now, were far from being adequate.
The hoodlums hijacked the ENDSARS protest which sought to put an end to widespread brutality of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
While the five-point demands of the protesters, largely comprising of the youth were met, they still pressed on with their agitation which was eventually hijacked by the hoodlums.
In the ensuing confusion, the hoodlums attacked some government utilities and private business concerns, looting all the properties they could lay their hands on.
Apart from stealing the various items, the hoodlums also killed some police officers, thus warranting the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar Adamu to direct the personnel to defend themselves when under attack from criminals.
Most importantly, the hoodlums forcefully opened the warehouses where the COVID-19 palliatives were kept and freely help themselves.
With the police and other security agencies swinging into action and restoring some level of sanity, many suspects were arrested and set to be arraigned before the law court.
Speaking in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Calabar Sunday, Cross River state Commissioner of Police Abdulkadir Jimoh, said the correctional centres in the state were rejecting the looters.
CP Abdulkadir, who gave an update on the arrests, said 90 persons suspected to have taken part in the vandalisation, looting and burning down of public and private properties and business concerns in Calabar last week, were arrested.
Of this number, he said 69 were prosecuted, stressing that the collaboration among all the security outfits in the state paid off.
He said: “Due to enormity of the problem, there was collaboration and synergy between the Police and indeed all other security agencies in the state, so the whole city was sectorised and we did work together to see that peace returned to the city.
“Over 90 suspects were arrested, 69 have been charged and are supposed to be in custody of correctional centres, but correctional centres are not taking them.”
Efforts to get additional information from the Police Public Relations Officer for the state command, DSP Irene Ugbo, did not yield any further result as she could not respond to many calls and SMS our reporter sent to her mobile lines.
However, other police sources said the force recovered four new tricycles, water heaters, bathtubs, air conditioners, chairs, and other stolen items as looters, fearing arrest from the house-to-house search proposed by the state government, were dumping many items by road sides and refuse dumps across Calabar metropolis.
From Lagos state, the number of the arrested still remained at 520, previously announced by CP Hakeem Odumosu.
“The protests which started peacefully turned violent on Monday, Oct.12, when some criminally-minded hoodlums at the Surulere protest venue cashed-in on the precarious situation.
“They proceeded to attack the Anti-kidnapping Unit’s Office of the Command located at Iyun Road, Western Avenue, Surulere, with premeditated intention to liberate suspected kidnappers detained inside the facility.
“In the process, three of the policemen on duty were shot and critically injured while two suspects were set free,’’ the commissioner said.
While lamenting that six police personnel were gruesomely murdered with four civilians losing their lives during the crisis, he said, “based on these incidences, the command was able to arrest 520 suspects for various crimes committed.
“One Olamilekan Ibrahim, male, 19, was one of those who broke into a new generation bank and carted away cash and other valuables. His share is N250, 000 from the loot.
“Also, two male suspects: Ebere Ruben, 29, and Samuel Oyediran, 16, were arrested for their involvements in burning the BRT terminal at Berger and TVC Station in Lagos State.”
And from Adamawa state, the police told Blueprint that they had commenced the prosecutions of all persons arrested in connection with the looting of both government and private properties in the state.
Spokesman of the command, DSP Yahaya Nguroje, who said this in Yola, Sunday, explained they had so far arrested 243 people in connection with the crisis.
Of this figure, 55 persons found guilty of violating the curfew imposed by the state government were warned and released on administrative bail.
In Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, a total of 144 suspected looters have so far been arrested by joint security operatives.
The suspects were paraded by the police.
Of this figure, 71 were arraigned before an Ilorin Magistrate Court for allegedly looting COVID-19 palliatives at Kwara Agro Mall and cargo terminal in Ilorin.
The suspects were charged for criminal conspiracy, trespass, belonging to gang of thieves, mischief, voluntarily causing grievous hurt, theft and disturbance of public peace.
The police prosecutor, Nasir Yusuf, told the court that the suspects were arrested last penultimate Friday and Saturday at the Agro Mall and cargo terminal when they were looting the palliatives.
He said investigation on the matter was still ongoing while he left the bail of the suspects to the discretion of the court.
In her ruling, Magistrate Mohammed Ibrahim granted the suspects bail in the sum of N200, 000 each and two sureties in the like sum.
He then adjourned the matter till November 18, 2020.
However, checks by Blueprint revealed that some of the suspects were remanded at the Mandala medium correctional home as they could not meet their bail conditions.
He further said out of the remaining 188 people believed to have looted both public and private properties, 68 have already been arraigned in courts for criminal conspiracy, theft, shops and houses burglary and charged.
He said another 68 were charged to courts, their pleas taken and remanded in prison custody.
The remaining 52 would be charged to court Monday (today) over similar charges.
Others also arrested for buying looted items, would equally be arraigned in court alongside the looters, as all investigations had been concluded.
And from Ondo state, the state police command apprehended and paraded 18 suspects, for their alleged role in the looting of wares and as well as aiding and abetting the escape of inmates at the Correctional centre in various parts of the state during the protests.
Similarly, the police authority also confirmed the death of two policemen and a civilian in the aftermath of the EndSARS protest which was subsequently hijacked by hoodlums in the state.
The civilian casualty was one of the three-man gang that attempted to rob a new generation bank in Ondo town, he said.
Commissioner of Police Bolaji Salami, who briefed journalists also said the suspects of arson were arrested at the secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Akure and Oda in Akure South local government area of the state while razing the party’s secretariat and Oda Police Division respectively.
He further said some others were arrested at the Correctional centre in Ore, Odigbo local government area of the state for breaking into the facility to release inmates and burning of public and private properties.
The CP said some of the suspects had made confessional statements on the offences, with some others also denying any involvement.
One of the suspects, who was arrested in connection with the destruction of Oda Police Division, Adedayo David, said he was arrested at Ala Quarters while going to his friend’s place to deliver a message to his wife.
And from Anambra state, the number of paraded suspects still stood at 17, while another two were arrested as at Sunday.
Parading the suspects, CP John Abang gave their names as Vincent Matthew, 29; Aguonu Chinedu Victor, 24; Ezenagwu Ekene, 32; Chukwuebuka Obianefo, 36; Okonkwo Stanley, 37; Obumneme Omezuluike, 30; Onyiuke Odinaka Izuchukwu, 26; Chukwuweike Enweozo, 30; and Chibuzo Otiaba, 22.
Others were Ebuka Nkwoego, 26; Emmanuel Okafor, 21; Kelechi Onyekwere, 34; Onyeka Egbemadu, 23; Samson Okoli, 23; Ugochukwu Nwagboso, 38; Nwankpa Ejike, 26; and Nwankpa Izuchukwu.
The CP said investigations were ongoing as the command intensifies efforts to apprehend other fleeing suspects in order to bring them to book.
However, the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Haruna Muhammed, when contacted weekend said two more suspects were also arrested, thus increasing the number to 19.
The PPRO equally refused to explain why numbers of suspects arrested were poor compared to other states.
However, sources told our reporter that it would be difficult for the police to unmask the hoodlums as they (police) were off the road while the looting lasted.
The source added that most of those arrested in connection with the act were those whose pictures were identified from among the pictures and videos flying on the social media.
And from Oyo state, police confirmed Sunday the arrest of 15 suspects.
Commissioner of Police Joe Nwachukwu Enwonwu stated this through the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Lawrence Fadeyi in a chat with Blueprint in Ibadan.
He said 9 suspected hoodlums were arrested in Iseyin over the attack and burning of Iseyin Divisional Police headquarters, while 6 were arrested in Ogbomoso over the attack on the palace of the Soun of Ogbomoso on Sunday, October 10.
CP Enwonwu stressed that the six hoodlums arrested in Ogbomoso had already been charged to court.
“The Oyo state Police Command have arrested no fewer than 9 suspected arsonists and looters for allegedly attacking the Divisional Police headquarters,Iseyin on Thursday 22nd October, 2020 and thereafter setting the station ablaze under the pretext of EndSARS protests that lingered for so many days, ” he said.
Enwonwu, who identified the arrested hoodlums as Taoered Hamsat, Tajudeen Ibrahim, Moshood Fatai, Musibau Abubakar, Sikiru Aliu, Fasasi Fatai , Isiaka Olaniyi, Raheem Toheeb and Adeleke Akeempite, said the hoodlums would be prosecuted in court in line with the laws of the land.
The CP further said the command was still on the trail of other hoodlums involved in the attack and looting.
With the spate of arrests, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) is currently in dilemma over where to keep the huge number of persons currently undergoing prosecutions.
Blueprint gathered exclusively that the agency has been empowered by the new law to reject inmates where the facility is overcrowded having notified the relevant authorities.
Before now, NCoS had severally expressed displeasure over the overcrowding nature of most of their facilities across the country, asking the presidential committee on decongestion to do more.
Media reports across the nation, have however, showed that courts of law have started sending some arrested ‘palliative looters’ to the Correctional facilities.
But a dependable source from the NCoS told one of our correspondents Sunday that the already congested prison facilities would not admit ‘palliative looters’ unless they were cleared of COVID-19 virus.
The source, which was not officially allowed to speak on the subject matter, said though the agency can not reject anybody but once there is overcrowding in any facility the new law empowers it to decongest within three months.
The source said: “We are not rejecting anybody. If the court send them to us we will not reject them but they must observe mandatory 14 days COVID-19 rule by the NCDC before we can admit them. They must be declared free of cbefore we can admit anybody into our facility.
“In fact, the new law empowers the Correctional Service to reject inmates where the capacity is nearing overcrowding.”
On whether the agency has right to reject inmates as a result of overcrowding, the top management staff referred our correspondent to the new law governing the agency which stipulates in Section 12 sub-section iv that the State Controller of NCoS will notify “the State Chief Judge and Anthony General, Prerogative of Mercy Committee, State Criminal Justice Committee and any other relevant body, while action must be taken to decongest such facility within three months.”
When asked whether the NCoS boss, Ahmed Ja’afaru was planning to write the CJN over this, the source said “such action has not been taken to the best of my knowledge.”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.