By Val Okara
No fewer than 80 prisoners that escaped from the Owerri Custodial Center have voluntarily returned to the facility.
The Nigerian Correctional Service, Owerri disclosed this, saying, “About 17 of them returned on Tuesday and on Wednesday, we saw more than 20 returning back.
But they are mainly those on awaiting trial, those who have less prison term and those who are about to complete their terms, have returned so far.” About 42 of the inmates returned as of Monday evening, bringing the total number of returnees to 80.
“The problem we are having, and this is not peculiar to the jail break here, is that none of the hardened and condemned inmates (HCI) who escaped had returned.
“This is understandable because it will take a miracle for a person who knows that his execution can take place any moment, to return after his freedom was given to him freely by those who broke into the facility.”
Gazette recalled that gunmen suspected by the police to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) attacked the Correctional facility and freed 1,844 inmates. The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, on Tuesday announced that the Federal government may grant amnesty to any escapee who voluntarily return to prison to complete his or her jail term.
“Most of the returnee inmates were escorted back by their parents, lawyers and relations. We are expecting that more will return by the weekend. Most of them want to return, but they are afraid that they might be manhandled by some security agents. “We have very good inmates whose characters we can vouch for.
That’s why we need to bring back the parole policy. Some of these inmates run errands for our officers. You can send them on errands from here to the North or Lagos and they will go and after about three days, they will return back. So, there is need for the government to work with the service’s high authorities to decongest the prisons using parole policy.”
The Public Relations Officer of Owerri Correctional Service, James Madugba, confirmed that more escapees were still be returning to the center but he could not confirm the number of prisoners that had returned so far. Interior Affairs Minister Aregbesola who was in Owerri for assessment visit to the prison and pleaded with the runaway inmates to return.