Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has admonished squadron commanders to defend the custodial facilities under their watch with maximum force.
Aregbesola said the men should make whoever attacks correctional centres “live to regret it.”
The minister’s directive followed the attack on the Owerri Custodial Centre where over 1,884 inmates escaped from custody on April 5. There was also an attempted jailbreak at the Kano and Bauchi correctional centres.
Addressing the officers at the Nigerian Correctional Service headquarters in Abuja on Friday, the minister said custodial facilities must remain inviolable and secure.
He stated, “The weapon you carry must be deployed legally to defend the custodial centres. Anyone who attempts to violate the centres must be made to live to regret it. By the time you make it a death and life matter, that would be the last time anyone would attempt to attack the centres.”
Speaking further, he said, “The custodial facilities are a symbol of the authority of the Nigerian state. They are sacred and inviolable institutions. You will notice that they are usually built around military fortresses, to show how important they are. This is to deter would-be attackers from inside or outside.
“More importantly, you are armed and positioned to directly guard them and defend their integrity. Your mission is to defend the facilities at all cost. Let me repeat again, defend them at all cost.”
In his speech titled, ‘Inviolable custodial centres,’ Aregbesola said jail breaks cannot happen without the connivance of officials, noting that the possible involvement of officers in the Owerri custodial facility attack would come to light in the course of investigations.
“It will be difficult, if not impossible, for inmates to break from inside without receiving assistance from officers, no matter how little,” he maintained.
He commended the NCoS officials in Bauchi and Kano for thwarting the attempted jailbreaks at the facilities and directed the service to issue a letter of commendation to them.
While stressing the significance of custodial centres as the foundation on which societal justice is built, the minister said grave and incalculable harm will be done to society if this foundation slips.
He noted, “The entire edifice will come crashing down, with dire consequences for all. We are already seeing some of these. Some of the escaped inmates from Edo have been arrested for committing murder and other crimes. One, in particular, went after those who provided the witness for his conviction.”