Owerri prison break: Osinbajo, Aregbesola visit Imo, says escaped inmates will be pardoned if they return voluntarily


Minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, says the fugitives who escaped from the federal prison in Owerri, Imo state capital, will be pardoned if they voluntarily return.

The minister gave the assurance while inspecting the centre on Tuesday following an attack on the facility and police headquarters in the state.

Aregbesola said unlawful escape from custody is a crime but assured that willful returnees will be exempted from prosecution.

The minister said he will ensure that those involved in the attack are brought to book.

He said the federal government will leave no stone unturned to fish out perpetrators of what he described as a “dastardly act”.

“Unlawful escape from custody is a crime but government in its magnanimity will grant amnesty to prisoners who willfully return," he said.

“They will no longer be charged with unlawful escape but only for the initial crimes that took them to prison. So we urge all escapees to return before they are caught on the run.”

Seye Oduntan, the deputy controller of correctional service in charge of Owerri custodial centre, said 36 inmates stayed back after the attack while six persons had so far returned.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has also visited Imo state following the attacks.

During his visit to the affected facilities on Tuesday, the vice-president condemned the jailbreak which he said led to the release of “dangerous criminals”, adding that the search for the escaped inmates “has begun in earnest”.

“An attack on the critical institutions of law enforcement, police stations and prisons is an attack on the safety, security and well being of the citizens.

“It is not merely an attack on law and order. It is a mindless attack on the people and the way of life of the people. When you attack police stations and free dangerous criminals, you put women, men, children and their possessions and livelihoods at risk,” he said.

“It is in this beautiful land, that our county learned an enduring lesson on the futility of violence. But there are those who believe that to resolve issues and conflicts other than by violence is cowardliness.

“If the voices of their hatred prevails we will experience the terrible and fruitless loss of life that violence begets. Our system is not perfect, and we can seek to perfect it.

“There is no earthly system that is perfect, but what democracy and the institutions of democratic governance provide, are channels, however imperfect for seeking redress for injury, for peacefully addressing the problems that ail us.

“There are many who are working tirelessly everyday to improve our system, to build up and to enhance it. We must therefore, reject the agents of anarchy that seek to weaponise the frustration and discontent of young people, for their own profit.

“The path of violence can only lead to disaster, that consumes everyone, at least to the desolation of our communities. It is easy to take peace for granted, but we need not learn the value of peace through the horrible crucible of war.”

Osinbajo, however, assured Imo residents that security presence has been enhanced to ensure that peace reigns in the state.

The police have accused the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) of being responsible for the attack. But the group has since denied any involvement.

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