The Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola has described recent attacks on the nation’s custodial centres as premeditated, planned, coordinated and meant to make Nigeria unsafe and ridicule the government. 

Describing external attacks on custodial facilities as a rarity hitherto, he noted that the Federal Government had observed that the pattern of attacks on custodial centres in Owerri, Benin, Kabba and now Oyo were not random happenings. 

Speaking during an inspection of the Abolongo Custodial Centre in Oyo, which came under attack on Friday night and some inmates freed, Aregbesola vowed that there would not be a repeat of guards being overwhelmed, adding that the Federal Government was retraining officers and putting extra safety measures to ensure custodial facilities are safe.

Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola

Noting that the consistent attacks on custodial centres began with the #EndSARS protests of last year, Aregbesola said the Federal Government would not rest until every inmate who escaped from custody is captured, whether dead or alive. 

Stating that the Federal Government had records of all the inmates, including their biometric data, which are being forwarded to the INTERPOL, Aregbesola said security agencies were on the trail of all who had escaped from custodial facilities across the country and would be apprehended. 

Aregbesola said: “The spate of attacks on our custodial facilities, the last of which occurred here (Oyo) on Friday night, calls for serious concern; first in our society and secondly on your professionalism. 

“This is unacceptable and we are saying enough is enough.

“External attacks on custodial facilities were a rarity hitherto. What was common, and for which our system had been well primed, was internal breach. 

“But beginning with the spontaneous #EndSARS protests of last year which dovetailed into massive riots, there have been consistent attacks on our facilities in Owerri, Benin, Kabba and now Oyo. This is not just some random happenings. These are premeditated, planned and coordinated attacks meant to make Nigeria unsafe and ridicule the government. 

“Last year, we had an unfortunate case of an escaped convict who went to kill those who served as witnesses in the case against him, before he was later arrested. Of course, he would serve the remainder of his term and go for fresh trial for escaping from lawful custody and the murder of the witnesses. But the harm had been done, no thanks to those who made it possible for him to escape from custody ab initio. 

“We responded to the attacks by retraining our officers and increased the number of armed personnel in our facilities. But Kabba again proved a different kettle of fish with the sheer number of the invaders and the sophistication of their arms and incendiary devices they brought. 

“Again, the Oyo attack came out of the ordinary. Nothing absolutely suggests that any such attack could happen or be possible, given the security measures we have put in place.  

“Let me assure Nigerians of their safety of lives and property. Our custodial facilities are safe and we are putting extra safety measures in place, in the light of the observed pattern of the external attacks we have seen, to prevent any such occurrence in the future. 

“This matter is being investigated and we shall leave no stone unturned to get to the root of the matter – the remote and immediate causes and the vulnerability of our system and personnel, if any. 

“We are going after every single inmate who escaped from custody. We shall hunt them to the ends of the earth. All the security agencies in the country are on their trail. We shall not rest or tire until we bring the last one in, dead or alive.” 

Within a small window, Aregbesola further said the Federal Government would pardon those who escaped from custody if they would voluntarily turn themselves in. In terms of numbers, the Assistant Controller of Prison in charge of the Abolongo Custodial Centre, Ongaji Adams, said 460 inmates out of 907 inmates were still at large. 

“We have recaptured 378 inmates out of 907 inmates. 460 inmates are at large. 69 inmates never left the facility, and about three are injured.”

Asked about high-profile inmates in the custodial centre, Deputy Comptroller General (Operations) Tukur Muhammed, said neither notorious territorial warlord, Iskilu Wakili, nor notorious ritual suspect, Sunday Shodipe, was in the facility. 

Muhammed said: “I want to say clearly that here, in this custodial centre, we don’t have any high-profile inmates. Iskilu Wakili, Sunday Shodipe are not here.” 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: