Edo imposes 24-hour curfew over wrongfully freed inmates

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According to a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, the curfew takes effect from 4pm on Monday.

Ogie said, “This decision becomes necessary because of the very disturbing incidents of vandalism and attacks on private individuals and institutions by hoodlums in the guise of #EndSARS protesters.

“While the government of Edo State respects the rights of its citizens to undertake legitimate protests, it cannot sit idly when hoodlums have taken laws into their hands to cause mayhem on innocent citizens and the state.

“By the directive, schools and businesses are to shut down activities accordingly. Those who cannot move safely are to stay put between now and 4pm till calmness is restored.

“Parents are advised to rein in their children, youths and wards to forestall a further breakdown of law and order.

“The responsibility of government is to protect lives and property and maintain law and order; therefore, anyone found outside in violation of the curfew will be dealt with according to the law.”

The protests turned violent on Monday after hoodlums invaded two custodial centres in Edo State and freed the inmates, while others attacked officers of the Rapid Response Squad in Lagos and other parts of the country.

Kano residents also joined the protests following the death of a 17-year-old boy in police custody.

In Benin, the Edo State capital, six persons were feared killed when hoodlums hiding under the guise of the protest broke into the Benin Correctional Centre and the Oko Medium Security Centre, and released inmates at the facilities.

The armed squad of the prisons reportedly engaged the thugs in a gunfire, which resulted in the death of six persons, while several others sustained injuries.

Four of the dead were confirmed inmates, while the identities of the two others were unknown, but were believed to be among the hoodlums.

Also destroyed was the High Court 4 beside the prison, which the hoodlums vandalised. It was learnt that the hoodlums started gathering on the Sapele Road beside the prison as early as 7am, setting bonfires and sending back motorists and other road users.

They launched an attack when their number had swelled considerably and broke a part of the wall, while some climbed the fence into the prison yard.

A few of the inmates escaped with gunshot wounds, while an elderly man was recaptured while walking away like a passer-by.

At Oko, the hoodlums were said to have overpowered the five armed guards at the facility and had a free day looting shops by the road leading to the prison and carting away valuables from the prison officials’ offices.

It was gathered that immediately after the attack in Benin, security was alerted in Oko, but calls to the Nigerian Army and the police for reinforcement were not heeded, hence the ease with which the hoodlums overpowered the prison guards.

The Oko facility has the capacity to accommodate 1,300 inmates.

Before the attack on the Oko Correctional Centre, the hoodlums were reported to have ransacked the Oba Market Police Station, attacked its armoury and stole guns.

Benin was also shut down by protesters fighting against police brutality and bad governance in the country. As early as 7am on Monday, all the major roads leading to the city were blocked.

The entire city was on complete lockdown, as protest points were set up on the various roads such as Airport, Akenzua/Plymouth, Ring, Siluoko, Akpakpava by First, Second and Third East roads.

Some protesting youths in the communities seized the opportunity to extort money from motorists using the routes by demanding between N200 and N1,000 before allowing them to pass.

The Coordinator of the Masses Eye in Edo State, Samson Momorin, tasked both the state government and state Commissioner of Police, Mr Johnson Kokumo, not to allow anyone to sweep the issues surrounding the correctional centres’ attack and release of the inmates under the carpet.

He advised the government to seriously look into all the demands of the #EndSARS protesters and for sincere reforms of all sections of the nation’s economy for a better society.

“The names of the SARS personnel found guilty in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory should be published and they should be prosecuted accordingly without fear or favour,” Momorin said.

On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State urged all residents to comply with the directive of the government and support the security agencies as they rid the streets of those responsible for the mayhem visited on the state.

The Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the state, Chris Nehikhare, said in a statement, “As a responsible and compassionate political party, we did not only support the #EndSARS protests, but encouraged our supporters and members to join in the legitimate protest.”

He commended the resolve of the protesters to continue the protest despite the attack on them last week by hoodlums, who killed and wounded some of them.

“Having failed to stop the protesters, it appears that the thugs and hoodlums have changed tactics and have infiltrated the ranks of the genuine protesters. We watched as a peaceful protest degenerated into a killing field. This is unacceptable,” he added.

Also, a member of the House of Representatives representing the Ovia Federal Constituency, Dennis Idahosa, condemned the jailbreak.

Idahosa, who spoke through his media aide, Mr Osaro Aghedo, said the protest had been hijacked by hoodlums and called on the state Commissioner of Police to urgently see to it that law and order was restored.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Correctional Service has said that it cannot ascertain the number of inmates who escaped from the Benin and Oko custodial centres in Edo State on Monday.

It alleged that the centres were attacked by suspected protesters “under the #EndSARS protest, freeing inmates legally interned by courts of competent jurisdiction in Edo State.”

A statement by the NCoS spokesman, DCI Austin Njoku, said efforts were underway to arrest the situation and restore normalcy back to the centres.

It stated, “This is to inform the general public that the Nigerian Correctional Service custodial centres at Benin and Oko in Benin City were attacked this morning (Monday) 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 hitherto presented by the #EndSARS protesters.

“The exact figures of escapees and casualties are yet to be confirmed and will be communicated after preliminary investigations.”

The spokesman further disclosed that the armed squad personnel of the service were working tirelessly to bring the situation under control.

However, a leading member of the movement, Ralph Adebayo, stated, “The government is merely trying to discredit the #EndSARS movement by linking us to the jailbreak, but it has failed because the protests have been peaceful.”

Leftist, Dickson Johnson, reavealed that those who attacked and freed the inmates were not #EndSARS protesters, but hoodlums who came to purposely free their colleagues either serving jail terms or awaiting trial.

He said, “Those who attacked the prison were not protesters. I can confirm to you that they were boys who came from Upper Sakpoba and took advantage of the protest to attack the prisons and free their people.

“They attacked the prisons from the back by scaling the fence. But the guards opened fire on them but they still found their way in, attacked the prison officials, freed the inmates and set the administrative office, where the records of the inmates are, on fire.

Hoodlums on Monday attacked operatives of the Lagos State Rapid Response Squad on the Herbert Macaulay Way in the Yaba area of the state.

Footage trending online showed the hoodlums hurling stones and other objects at the patrol vehicles of the RRS.

The operatives were said to be plying the route to link the Lekki area of the state when the hoodlums attacked them.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, said 19 policemen were critically injured.

He stated, “The #EndSARS protest, which is gradually becoming violent, got heightened on Monday, October 19, 2020, when violent protesters descended on some policemen attached to the Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos State Command at Adekunle, Yaba, around 10am.

“The 97 policemen, who were being conveyed to their various beats on routine relief duties across the state, came across the violent protesters, who started shouting, ‘No police, No police,’ and stoned them. After the attacks, 19 of the policemen were critically injured, while four police vehicles were damaged.

“The policemen, who scampered for safety, were eventually rescued and rushed to the Police Clinic at Panti, Yaba, for medical attention. The state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, has condemned the attack and urged officers and men of the command to remain calm, while they continue to manage the situation professionally, as usual in the state.”

Protesting youths under the aegis of the Coalition of Northern Youths Groups stopped vehicular movement along the Minna- Suleja road on Monday.

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