The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has given escapees from the Benin Medium Security Correctional Centre and Oko Medium Security Correctional Centre on Friday to return voluntarily or face the wrath of the law.
Following Monday’s jailbreaks in the two centres by hoodlums, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) disclosed that 1,993 inmates escaped from their facilities.
Mr Obaseki went 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.
However, the controller of corrections, Edo State Command, Babayo Maisanda, revealed on Wednesday that 1,818 inmates were still at large, while 163 have been re-arrested and six have returned voluntarily.
Speaking at the end of the on-the-spot assessment, Mr Obaseki lamented that the extent of destruction was massive, adding that it was against the spirit of genuine #EndSARS protesters that went about their protests in a peaceful manner.
The governor said the government would not sit down and watch hoodlums operate in such a manner, adding that the attacks on the security facilities were orchestrated by criminally minded people.
He, therefore, warned the escapees to turn themselves in at the Edo State Command of the Nigeria Police Force in Benin City for them to be returned to the correctional centres.
Mr Obaseki said, “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.