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Over 1,600 inmates still at large six months after Benin jailbreaks

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Six months after the October 19, 2020 jailbreaks at the Benin and Oko Medium Security Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State, over 1,685 inmates are still at large, The Guardian investigations have revealed.

The jailbreak was one of the high points of last year’s #EndSARS protests, which were purportedly hijacked by hoodlums.

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Before the incident, the two correctional facilities had 1, 993 inmates comprising those convicted to life imprisonment and awaiting-trial inmates.

The Correctional Centre in Benin City on the Benin-Sapele Road was built in 1906, while the Oko Prisons along Airport was created in the late 1980s.

The Guardian learned that of the 1, 835 inmates that escaped from the correctional centres, only 141 inmates have either been rearrested or returned voluntarily.

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The investigation also revealed that the photographs and names of the 1, 685 still at large have been circulated on social media, while billboards containing their details have been erected at strategic locations in Benin City and its environs for members of the public to provide useful information that would lead to their re-arrest.

Giving a breakdown of the escapees, Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS), Edo State Command, Aminu Suleiman, a Deputy Superintendent of Correction (DSC), said: “The number of inmates in the two facilities as of the time of jailbreak was 1,993.

“However, 1, 835 were reported to be at large after the headcount. Those that returned on their own and those recaptured are 141 inmates and so, well over 1,600 are still at large.”

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Speaking on efforts made to recapture the escapees, Suleiman said the command had provided the photographs and names of those that have not returned and cautioned members of the public habouring the escapees against the dangers of their action.

“The criminals are nobody’s friends and they are capable of committing other crimes outside. So, it will be best for members of the public to help ensure that they are taken out of circulation for a peaceful and safer society.

“For those at large, the law says whosoever aids a criminal to escape or habours a criminal escapee, also commits an offence. The public should note this and not accommodate or assist any escapee,” Suleiman said.

Suleiman noted that the command was collaborating with the other security agencies to secure the seven facilities in the state.

“We are collaborating with the Nigeria Police, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), and Department of State Services (DSS) to ensure that the centres are well secured,” he said.

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