Jesusegun Alagbe with agency report
Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma on Monday said the jailbreak in April from the Owerri Correctional Centre had led to an increase in crime in the state.
The governor said this while commiserating with the families of two soldiers killed last Friday at Izombe community in Oguta Local Government Area of the state, and vowing that the perpetrators would be unmasked and brought to justice.
Over 1,800 inmates escaped from the Owerri Correctional Centre during the April jailbreak allegedly caused by the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the armed wing of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The jailbreak was the fourth in Nigeria in about six months. Similar incidents had happened in Edo and Ondo states in October 2020 during the #EndSARS protests.
Over 1,500 of the inmates who fled the Owerri Correctional Centre are still at large, AF24NEWS gathered.
A statement signed by Uzodimma’s Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser, Oguwike Nwachuku, attributed the increase in crimes like banditry and kidnapping in Imo State to inmates still roaming the streets and yet to be arrested.
“The evidence of their activities is manifested in what happened at Izombe community, where one of those who confronted the military was an escapee from Owerri Prisons.
“Fortunately or otherwise, the hoodlum was killed by the soldiers in the confrontation,” the governor said, assuring the families of the slain security operatives that their death would not be in vain.
Read also: DSS operative shot dead in Imo
The statement said the two soldiers and a resident were killed when youths were collecting tolls from illegal oil bunkerers and oil thieves in the community.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the traditional ruler of Oborsi-Izombe, Eze Pius Muforo, on Sunday lamented that more than 70 houses, 15 vehicles and 25 motorcycles were razed just as crops were destroyed consequent upon a security raid in the area.
Pained by the loss of lives and destruction of property, Uzodimma promised that the state government would set up a panel of inquiry to look into the immediate and remote causes of the crisis.
He said the panel would make recommendations that would help to stop another occurrence.
The governor, however, frowned on the situation where the youths confronted the military personnel sent to the area, burnt military vehicle, abducted and killed two soldiers, and made away with their rifles.
He said, “The recent happening has brought to the fore the earlier state’s directive that anybody, no matter how highly-placed, who is in possession of any weapon should return it to security agencies.
“Regrettably, the time given for such has elapsed. Therefore, anybody still keeping any weapon runs the risk of being arrested and prosecuted and made to face the full weight of the law.
“Government will go out to fully implement that directive and ensure that all bandits no matter are discovered and brought to book,” he said.
Uzodimma added that it was no longer pardonable for people or any group of people to take the law into their own hands.