Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) has said that the exact figures of escaped prisoners freed from the Benin and Oko custodial centres on Monday morning by #EndSARS protesters are yet to be confirmed.
The prison service stated that the correct numbers will be communicated to the general public after preliminary investigations have been concluded, adding that efforts are underway to arrest the situation and restore normalcy to the Centres.
A statement issued Monday in Abuja, by DCC Austin C Njoku, a Public Relations Officer, said the Armed Squad Personnel of the Service is working tirelessly to bring the situation under control.
He enjoined the public to go about their businesses in a peaceful manner, resist and shun attempts to be used to destabilise the peace in the State.
According to him, the situation is ‘unfortunate as this does not portray the peaceful, no violence, no destruction mantra hitherto presented by the #EndSARS protesters.’
The NCoS called on those with useful information that will lead to the recapturing of the escaped inmates to report to the nearest custodial centre, police station or any other security agency.
The Service’s statement reads:
‘This is to inform the general public that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) Custodial Centres at Benin and Oko in Benin City were attacked this morning by suspected protesters under the #EndSARS protest, freeing inmates legally interned by courts of competent jurisdiction in Edo State.
‘It should be noted that the 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, GCFR, 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 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 than 450 operational vehicles have 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 centres to serve their sentences.’
The NCoS further stated that ‘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.’