Over 30 prisoners who escaped from the two Correctional centres at Sapele Road and Oko, Airport Road, Benin City, at the weekend returned to the centres.
A source at the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCS, who disclosed this to the Tribune Online on condition of anonymity, however, lamented that not a single condemned inmate out of the 228 who escaped at the centres had returned.
“Over 30 of them returned this weekend. But they are mainly those on awaiting trial, those who have less prison term and those who are about to complete their terms, have returned so far”, the source disclosed.
According to the NCS source, ” the problem we are having, and this is not peculiar to these two jail breaks, is that none of the Hardened and Condemned Inmates, HCI, who escaped has returned. We can understand this because it will take a miracle for a person who knows that his execution can take place any moment, to return after his freedom was given to him freely by those who broke into the facilities”.
Nigerian Tribune also gathered that while some of the escaped inmates had been returning in trickles to the facilities, there was an upsurge over the weekend when parents, family members, lawyers and other public spirited individuals accompanied the escaped inmates to the facilities.
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It would be recalled that following the October 19 #EndSARS protest in Benin, some angry youths stormed the two Correctional facilities and broke into them and freed 1,993 inmates, 228 of whom are on the death roll.
Following the development, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State initially extended a three-day amnesty to the inmates to return to the facilities willingly. The governor later extended the amnesty by another one week, which expired on October 30, 2020 by midnight.
About 24 of inmates returned early last week and with the expiration of the period of grace expiring on Saturday, for the 1,181 prisoners yet to return before the amnesty was announced, over 30 of them were brought back to the facilities to continue their terms.
The source disclosed that as at Oko Correctional Centre had received 24 of the inmates who were escorted back by their parents, lawyers and relations.
“We are expecting that more will return by Sunday and possibly Monday. Those we have received so far are inmates who have few months of their jail terms while the Hardened and Condemned Inmates are yet to return. Majority of those out there are awaiting trials”, the source rriterated.
Shortly after the jail break, Governor Obaseki, accompanied by the Edo state Commissioner of Police, Mr Johnson Kokumo, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Celestine Okoye and the Controller of correction, Edo state command Babayo Maisanda, paid an assessment visit to the prisons, where he issued the amnesty proclamation.
It was learnt that some of the inmates responded and voluntarily returned to the prison. The responses prompted the governor to further extend the ultimatum for one week.
A statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, stated that “the extension of the ultimatum is as a result of the positive response from the prisoners, as a good number of them have since returned to the two correctional facilities. The new window is to allow more prisoners to return to the centres willingly.”
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