Yesterday, Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu confirmed the withdrawal of men of the Nigerian Army from the Correctional Centers across the State. The reason for this, I don’t know yet.
The gunmen also set the police area command in the local government headquarters on fire. The thugs, who reportedly brandished weapons, carted away police rifles after setting the station ablaze. The state high court was also said to have been torched by the hoodlums. The local government Secretariat, offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission and Vehicle Inspection Office were vandalized.
Also, this is coming two months after the withdrawal of military personnel from checkpoints across the 18 local governments of Ondo State. At that time, it was reported that the withdrawal was triggered by non-payment of the soldiers’ allowances for months, an obligation that predated the advent of the Rotimi Akeredolu administration. Other media organization reported that the incident was triggered by a cold war between the Brigade Commander of 32 Artillery Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Yakubu Yerima and the Corp Commandant of Amotekun, Chief Adetunji Adeleye.
In the latest incident, Akeredolu wondered why soldiers will be withdrawn from correctional centers which belong to the Federal Government, while condemning in strong terms, the incident, he accuses the Army of inducing steps toward jail breaks.
ALSO READ IYC Condemns Wike’s Anti-Ijaw Remarks
As the ace investigative journalist and right fighter, Tosin Ajuwon rightly observed, we hope someone will challenge this action, not for our interest but the interest of the people and security of the sunshine state and facility.
According to him, “The withdrawal of these soldiers, honestly, portend a major threat to that facility and it’s already giving us as residents ominous signs of dangers ahead. Ondo must be secure. The news of those trailed from our border town and arrested with weapons is still fresh in our memory.
“I do hope we all raise our voices to condemn this and demand the immediate return of soldiers back to that facility to avoid possible jailbreak! Who knows the plan? Nothing is impossible in Nigeria”, Ajuwon added.
Even with the presence of the soldiers, we still have cases of jail breaks across the country, what happens when, the criminals now have a field day, because of the failure of the stakeholders involved?
According to statistics, in year 2021 alone, 5,238 inmates escaped from various prisons across Nigeria and there were 15 incidents of jailbreaks within that period, and eight were successful, while the prison break in Jos on December 2021 was the last of such jailbreaks.
According to official records of the Nigerian Correctional Service, the current population of inmates across correctional facilities in the country is 70,237. This figure is way higher than the 57,278 inmates carrying capacity of correctional facilities in the country, as revealed by the Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbeshola earlier in 2021.
While, it is well understood that the breakdown of security across the country has led to a surge in frequent prison breaks, kidnapping and banditry, it is pertinent to state that the latest action by the military in Ondo State could easily encourage jail breaks across the state.
Meanwhile, these successful jailbreaks is making a mockery of the arrests of criminals by the police and other security agencies, because with these jailbreaks, there is bound to be an exponential increase in crimes and criminalities in the country, this, the federal government must rise to occasion, intervene, and order the deployment of soldiers across correctional centers in Ondo State.
On this note, residents of Ondo State have pinned the words of the state governor who said he was more bothered about the overflow effect of the soldiers withdrawal on the security situation in the state. More so that such action could easily encourage jail breaks across the state.
He has also assured that he has met with other security heads in the state, particularly the Police and charged them to take over their responsibility of internal security in the state which obviously is the right step in the right direction.
He said: “It is, however, pertinent to alert members of the public and the Federal Government of this unwholesome situation. Findings into the remote cause of this action has only revealed that it was an order from above without corresponding details.
“The situation not withstanding, proactive efforts have been made to secure these centers so as not to allow premeditated jail breaks as whoever gave order to withdraw those soldiers was in the process of encouraging such”, the statement added.
“While we believe that the Federal Government has a duty to protect the prisons, we are more concerned about the security of our people across the state. A jail break will not only threaten the peaceful atmosphere we are enjoying in the state, it will pose serious danger to our people.
“Similarly, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) whose main assignment is to secure Federal Government facilities, has also deployed armed officers to the correctional facilities.
He added that he has also directed the deployment of men of the State Security Network (Amotekun) to complement the Police and the NSCDC. This is to ensure that any premeditated action is tamed and resisted with commensurate force.”
On a final note, stakeholders involved must rise up to occasion to avert a recurrence of the October 22, 2020 jailbreak in Ondo State where 58 inmates were released from the facility in Okitipupa Local Government Area of the state.