Confusion Trails Status of 47 Boko Haram Suspects in Ekwulobia Prisons
Written by admin on June 30, 2015
There was uncertainty monday over the status of 47 Boko Haram suspects alleged to have been relocated from detention centres in the North-east to Ekwulobia Prisons in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State in the wee hours Sunday morning amid water tight security.
Whilst an official of the prison said on the condition of anonymity yesterday that they arrived after midnight on Sunday, confirming the story yesterday that suspected Boko Haram prisoners of war (PoWs) had been moved to prisons nationwide, the headquarters of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) in Abuja denied their relocation.
The arrival of the prisoners, which was common knowledge among residents of the state who discussed the development in public places, created tension across Anambra.
The rumour of the planned relocation of the captured Boko Haram prisoners to the Ekwulobia Prisons had on Saturday sparked off protests in the state’s major cities of Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi and Ekwulobia crippling economic activities statewide with the attendant confusion everywhere.
Reacting to the development, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Mr. James Eze, had Sunday night issued a statement exonerating his boss, Chief Willie Obiano, of any complicity in the planned relocation of the Boko Haram prisoners to the state.
He frowned on what he called “mischievous speculation” in the social media that the planned relocation of the prisoners to Anambra prisons had the tacit approval and endorsement of his principal, saying it was to the contrary.
In a statement titled: “The Planned Relocation of Boko Haram Convicts to Anambra Prisons: Setting the Records Straight”, Eze said that on getting wind of the planned relocation of the high-risk prisoners to the state, Obiano quickly swung into action and contacted the relevant authorities to seek clarification on the matter, after which he raised several objections to the plan.
Among Obiano’s objections, he said, included the fact that Anambra had remained one of the most peaceful states in the country in the past one year under his watch and that the arrival of these radical elements in any part of the state could disrupt the peace and instill a regime of fear in the state.
He said Obiano informed the authorities that “Ekwulobia Prisons is not a maximum security prison. It is therefore not suitable as a holding place for convicted terrorists. Global experience shows that terrorists and terror suspects are kept in strongly fortified and isolated places.
However, when contacted, the NPS in Abuja dismissed the claim that Boko Haram prisoners had been transferred to the Ekwulobia Prisons in Anambra State, stating that it was “logistically impracticable and legally challenging to transfer Boko Haram suspects to the South-east”.
The Public Relations Officer of NPS, Francis Ebohon, said the Ekwulobia Prisons is purposely built for convicted criminals and not for suspects awaiting trial, “particularly Boko Haram suspects”.
“It is logistically impracticable and legally challenging to transfer Boko Haram suspects to the South-east since they can only be tried close to the place they committed the office, which is the North-east.
“The arrangement with NPS was that only terrorists who have been tried and convicted by a competent court of law can be transferred to our custody,” he said.