Imo: Again Gunmen Attack Police Free Detainees, Burn Down Station (Photos)

…Don’t Let Hoodlums Thwart Your Peace – Osinbajo Tells Imo People
…We’ll Hunt 1,844 Escapee Inmates To The End Of The Earth – FG

It’s more worry for the residents of Imo State as the insecurity rate appears to be on the rise as a result of continued attacks on police facilities in the state, the recent one occurred at Ehime Mbano Local Government Area.

A day after gunmen attacked the Police Command Headquarters in Owerri, a group of armed men invaded another police facility in the state on Tuesday.

The latest attack was carried out on the Divisional Police Headquarters in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area – just about an hour-and-a-half drive from the state capital.

Sources said the gunmen, who came in buses and in a large number, arrived at the police station and freed all the suspects in detention before setting the building ablaze.

Police authorities in the state confirmed the incident to Channels Television, although they insisted that the armoury at the station was intact.

“ Ehime Mbano (Police) Division has just been attacked, no casualty on the part of the police, no loss of arms, three vehicles burnt,” Orlando Ikeokwu who is the Police Public Relations Officer said in a text.

On Monday, gunmen attacked the Police Command Headquarters in the state where they burnt almost all the vehicles parked there.

The attack, carried out in the early hours of Monday, happened at a time when gunmen also invaded the Owerri Custodial Centre, freeing hundreds of inmates serving various jail terms.

Authorities of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) put the figure of inmates who fled the correctional facility at 1,844.

They, however, noted that six of the fleeing inmates voluntarily returned to the facility while 35 others refused to escape from custody.

The incident was condemned by the Federal Government and the state government, as well as various individuals and groups in the country.

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A screengrab taken on April 5, 2021 shows some burnt vehicles after gunmen attacked the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) in Imo State.

Mr Mohammed Adamu, who was the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) at the time of the attacks, ordered the immediate deployment of additional units of Police Mobile Force (PMF) and other police tactical squads to Imo.

He stated that this was important to strengthen security in the state and prevent further attacks on security formations or any other critical national infrastructure in the state.

The former police chief had also directed the Commissioner of Police in Imo and a new Special Investigation Team to carry out holistic investigations into the incident, with a view to arresting and bringing the perpetrators of the attacks to justice.

A day after the incident, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as well as the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, and Adamu visited Imo for an on-the-spot assessment of the attacked facilities.

But the attack on the police station in Ehime Mbano is said to have occurred barely three hours after the vice president, the minister, and the former police chief left the state.

Meanwhile, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday admonished Imo State people in particular and the South East zone in general to resist attempts by hoodlums to thwart their peace and consequently stall progress and development in the area.

Osinbajo spoke in Owerri, the Imo State capital while reacting to the attack on the Nigerian Correctional Services and the Police Headquarters by some hoodlums on Monday.

The vice president was in the state to commission some roads – Dick Tiger Road and Dick Tiger Street – abandoned for 28 years, but which Governor Hope Uzodimma recovered.

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After a tour of the two federal government institutions, the Vice President noted that an attack on a critical institution of law enforcement such as the Police Station and Prison is an attack on the security and well being of citizens and described such act as “atrocious and condemnable.”

His words: “When you attack institutions of law and order it is evidence it is not an attack on justice as usual. It is an attack on the welfare and well being of the people, especially when you free prisoners, some of who may be dangerous to the community, dangerous to the people. It is particularly atrocious and condemnable. Government has already taken steps to enhance security here and in the Correctional Facilities and the State generally and that is a continuing process.”

Osinbajo added: “Perhaps more than any other part of the country, this region has borne witness to the very terrible cost in life, liberty and progress that is exacted by conflict. It is a least beautiful lie that our country learned an enduring lesson in the futility of violence for there are those who believe that to resolve conflicts and issues other than by violence is cowardice.

“If the voice of their hatred prevails, we will experience a terrible and needless loss of lives that violence exerts.”

He acknowledged that the Nigerian system is not perfect, but insisted that “what democracy and institution of a democratic governance provide are channels for seeking peaceful resolution to conflicts and injury.”

In the same vein, the Federal Government on Tuesday vowed to hunt down all 1,844 inmates who escaped during the Owerri Prison break, saying they cannot escape justice.

Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola made the vow when he visited the attacked Owerri Custodial Centre.

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Gunmen had invaded the prison on Monday and set 1,844 inmates free.

Aregbesola emphasized the grim resolve of the Federal Government to go after the perpetrators and bring the full weight of the law on them.

He noted that during the #ENDSARS riots, late last year, there were coordinated attacks on custodial centres in Edo State, while an unsuccessful attempt was made in Lagos. ‘Thus, a pattern of syndicated attacks on custodial centres is emerging.’

“We will react appropriately by going after these criminals and making them face the full wrath of the law. We will leave no stone unturned in fishing them out. Make no mistake; they will be hunted to the end of the earth. They can only run, but they cannot hide. We shall bring them to justice, or in the alternative, take justice to them,” the Minister said.

He added that additional security would be provided for all custodial centres from now on, for the safety of personnel and inmates as well as the security of the facilities.

“Full investigation will also commence immediately,” he confirms.

Aregbesola urged all escaped inmates to voluntarily return to custody and that those who heed this call would be given amnesty on the possible consequences of escaping from lawful custody.

While advising all correctional officers to be vigilant and take the security of the facilities and the inmates seriously more than ever before; he also assured them of the Federal Government’s determination to ensure their safety at all times.

“We are at war with an enemy that you may not yet know but knows you inside out,” Aregbesola reiterated.

Ehime Mbano

Ehime Mbano local government , Imo State.