THE Federal Government has declared the custodial centres across the country ‘Red Zones’ to invaders while expressing concerns about recent attacks on some of the facilities by hoodlums and gunmen.
Minister of Interior, Ọgbẹni Rauf Arẹgbẹsọla who spoke while addressing Squadron Commanders of the Nigerian Correctional Service, in Abuja, during the weekend, charged them that they were armed and positioned to directly guard the centres and defend their integrity.
“Earlier this month, there was an attack, the worst of its kind, on the Owerri custodial centre. During the #EndSARS riots of late last year, there were coordinated attacks on custodial centres in Edo State, while an unsuccessful attempt was made in Lagos,” he said.
He said he was aware of the yeoman’s job officers were doing in foiling attacks on the institutions, even as the outcry grows on the recent cases of jailbreaks, “but yet, we cannot lose our guards.”
The Minister who said that the meeting was very important, considering the security challenges in the country at the moment, noted that “The custodial facilities are a symbol of authority of the Nigerian State. They are sacred and inviolable institutions.”
He commended the Squadron Commanders for their ‘professionalism, diligence and sacrifice’ in the performance of their duty, adding that this had upheld the integrity of the custodial centres.
Aregbesola told the officers and men of the various Commands that they were empowered by the highest authority in the land to use every means necessary to defend the custodial centres against internal and external aggression.
According to him: “The weapons you carry and the instrument you have are to be lawfully deployed for maximum effect, in protecting the facilities. Anyone or group of persons that decide(s) to attack them should not live to regret it. You must not fail because failure means you have contributed to the insecurity in the land by allowing criminals to invade society.”
Giving marching order of the Federal Government to exercising maximum force in the protection of the facilities, Aregbesola said: “Never again must a successful attack be carried out in any of our Custodial Centres.”
“We cannot afford to fail our people, our nation and the President. I declare henceforth, all our Custodial centres as Red Zone,” he emphasised.
Earlier in his remarks, the Acting Controller-General, Nigeria Correctional Service, John Mrabure said the need to get the officers recharged, renewed, reinvigorated and reequipped with a new sense of purpose for the protection of Custodial centres, necessitated the meeting with the Minister of Interior.
Mrabure believes that the meeting would chat a new course in ensuring that there will be no reoccurrence of the recent attacks in the Custodial facilities in some states.
Also in attendance at the meeting was the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr Shuaib Belgore and other dignitaries.