Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
At least, 25 inmates out of the 1,900 that escaped from Oko and Sapele Road Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State last Monday have voluntarily surrendered themselves to the authorities.
An official of the Sapele Road Correctional Centre gave the figure yesterday, disclosing that one of the escapees had been recaptured after he was shot in the leg last Wednesday.
The official, also, disclosed that two out of the 25 inmates, who returned were inmates at the Oko Medium Correctional Centre along Airport Road, Benin.
Speaking with THISDAY anonymously, the official explained that the inmates would be returned to Oko when normalcy returns to the centre.
“The Department of State Security, the police and officials of the Nigerian Correctional Services will soon commence a manhunt for the runaway inmates immediately after a seven-day grace the state government gave them has elapsed.
He said those who escaped from lawful prison custody risked being sentenced for extra seven years if caught while those who willingly surrendered themselves would be shown mercy as the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki promised.
He said: “We have a way of arresting runway prisoners. We will swing into action once the protest calms down nationwide. The earlier they return on their own, the better for them.
“Those who are rearrested will be retried and sentenced to extra seven years if convicted. So, it is in their own interest to return as the governor has given them extra one week of grace to do so.”
One of the inmates, Alex Ose explained his decision to return to the centre, noting that he had been awaiting trial since 2014 when he was arrested for armed robbery in Benin.
Ose, a father of four and a taxi driver, said he decided to heed Obaseki’s call because he was innocent of the charges brought against him.
Ose, 40, said he was sure that the court would eventually vindicate him.
He, however, confessed that the escape provided him an opportunity to see his wife and children after a long time. He added that he ran into the ensuing bedlam when the protesters stormed the centre and ordered them to escape.
He said: “I am innocent of the allegations against me. I was framed up. I am appealing to Governor Obaseki to look into my case.
“I have every opportunity to run, but chose to surrender myself because I am not guilty. The governor should please look seriously into my case.”