Without supplying any evidence, the Nigerian Correctional Service on Monday blamed suspected protesters for today’s jailbreak in Benin, saying the violence contradicted the message of #EndSARS as a nonviolent campaign.
“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,” spokesman Chukwudi Njoku said in a statement to Peoples Gazette. “This is unfortunate as this does not portray the peaceful, no violence, no destruction mantra hither-to presented by the #ENDSARS protesters.”
The statement came hours after sponsored thugs whom witnesses said were deployed against #EndSARS protesters in Benin extended their violence to government offices, burning down police stations before moving to two custodial centres to free inmates.
The thugs’ action was widely condemned and Governor Godwin Obaseki promptly moved to impose a curfew around the state.
Campaigners against police brutality quickly saw the violence as possibly instigated by the authorities to undercut the message of their agitation and justify the use of security forces, which President Muhammadu Buhari has been largely reluctant to over the past two weeks of the campaign.
Those who attacked the correctional centres had no #EndSARS banner, but the office still went on to issue a statement that apparently blames the movement for today’s jailbreak.
Read the NCS’ full statement below:
PRESS RELEASE 19th October, 2020
Invasion of Custodial Centres at Edo
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.
This is unfortunate as this does not portray the peaceful, no violence, no destruction mantra hither-to presented by the #ENDSARS protesters.
The exact figures of escapees and casualties are yet to be confirmed and will be communicated after preliminary investigations.
Efforts are underway to arrest the situation and return normalcy back to the Centres. The Armed Squad Personnel of the Service is working tirelessly to bring the situation under control.
The public is therefore enjoined to go about their businesses in a peaceful manner, resist and shun attempts of being used to destabilize the peace in the state by destructing individual and public institutions.
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 of the six 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 centers to serve their sentences.
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.
The Service however, is calling on all Nigerians with useful information that will lead to the recapturing of fleeing inmates to report to any nearest Custodial Centres, Police station or any other Security Agency.
DCC AC Njoku
Public Relations Officer.