Imo Prisonbreak: FG offers amnesty to fugitives who return voluntarily

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The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has assured fugitives who escaped from the custodial center in Owerri, the Imo capital, of amnesty if they willfully return.

The minister gave the assurance while inspecting the center on Tuesday following last Monday’s breakout following an attack on the facility by unknown gunmen.

The minister said that unlawful escape from custody was a crime but assured that willful returnees will be exempted from the trial for unlawful escape, but not for the actual crimes for which they were initially convicted.

He advised the fugitives to return and vowed to ensure that those involved in the attack were brought to book.

According to the minister, 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 the government in its magnanimity will grant amnesty to prisoners who willfully return. They will no longer be charged with an 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,” he said.

Speaking, Deputy Controller of Correctional Service in charge of Owerri custodial center, DCC Seye Oduntan, said that 36 inmates stayed back after the attack while six persons had so far returned.

He urged members of the public to keep faith in security agencies and feed them with useful information that would enable the arrest of the fugitives.

Read Also: How Gunmen attacked Imo Prison, freed 1,844 inmates

Meanwhile the  Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad Dingyadi has described the attack as an act of terrorism.

The Press Secretary to the Minister, Osaigbovo Ehisienmen, said this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

Other facilities attacked were the Police Command Headquarters in Imo and the Headquarters of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS) in the state.

Dingyadi said that the highly reprehensible attack was an act of declaration of hostility against the Nigerian state.

He condemned the attack in strong terms and called on leaders in the South East and Nigeria, in general, to speak up against the simile manifestation of terrorism in the region.

The minister said the call was to prevent the attack from snowballing into a full-scale crisis.

He commended the Nigeria Police for the deployment of critical policing assets to Imo to fish out the perpetrators of the attack with a view to bringing them to justice.

Dingyadi said the measures put in place by the Police, would be extended to the entire South East and its contiguous states in the South-South and North Central.

He said the idea was to neutralize criminal elements threatening the regions.

The minister enjoined residents of South East, to cooperate with the police and other security agencies by exposing these enemies of the people.