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Aregbesola blames #EndSARS protests for rise in attacks on custodial facilities

By Tina Abeku, Abuja
28 June 2022   |   10:41 am
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the rise in attacks on custodial facilities in Nigeria on #EndSARS protests.

Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, 4th left, CG, NCoS, Haliru Nababa, 2nd right, flanked by invited dignitaries at the two-day retreat in Sokoto

Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the rise in attacks on custodial facilities in Nigeria on #EndSARS protests.

Aregbesola made this known at the ongoing Controller-General of Corrections retreat holding in Sokoto, Sokoto State.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic led to economic deprivation and movement restrictions which put people on edge leading to the #EndSARS protests.

Anti-police brutality protesters marched on the streets of Lagos, Abuja and other major Nigerian cities in October 2020, calling for an end to a notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian police.

The Nigerian government has since disbanded the squad. But Aregbesola said the protests compromised the security of custodial centres.

“The protests negatively affected correctional facilities as it snowballed into a barrage of consistent attacks on the facilities one after the other,” the minister said.

“Our system was designed to protect from the inside, the facilities were always built near police or military fortresses hence these attacks tasked us immensely but I am happy we came out to be on top of our game.

“Nevertheless, we still have the challenge of escaped inmates. Many are still out there, portending great danger to our communities and people.”

He pointed out that there has been an upsurge of crime around the areas where facilities have been attacked therefore the retreat must critically look into these issues, strategize and proffer lasting solutions to bringing back the escapee inmates.

Aregbesola also tasked the leadership of the service on the harmonisation of all inmates’ biodata with the Nigerian Financial Investigation Unit, (NFIU), to track the movement and financial transactions of escaped inmates in order to bring them back into custody.

“You have to rev up your contact with the International Police, (INTERPOL), for the possibility of (arresting), those that might try to or have left our shores. It is alo very important to have their DNA, (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid), the moment they come into your care.”

Aregbesola said stringent measures taken during the heat of the pandemic such as the decongestion of the centers through the prerogative of mercy, has led to the service not experiencing any outbreak of the pandemic among inmates.

Controller-General of the Nigeria Correctional Service, (NCoS), Haliru Nababa, said the two-day retreat will not only afford the hierarchy of the agency to restrategize and bond towards efficiency in service delivery, it also serves to provide clear perception on set targets.

He said the current capacity of the 244 custodial facilities stands at 58, 278 as against the population of 75, 000 inmates it now holds leading to congestion of inmates worsened by recent incessant attacks which were externally organised and executed.

“Drawing from the above, the NCoS has taken measures that will forestall future attacks such as the formation and activation of the Rapid Response Team, (RRT), initiate more intelligence sharing with other security agencies, the sensitization and encouragement of State governments to implement non-custodial measures as well as the scaling up of the capacity of Armed Squad and Intelligence personnel on the use if high calibre weaponry and intelligence gathering.”

Other issues up for discussion at the retreat are the digitalisation of the service and improved inmates’ participation in educational programs.