Since Boko Haram detainees have been moved to the Ekwulobia Prisons in Anambra State, the military has taken over the security of the prison facility. Security operations in the prison are no longer exclusively ran by officials of the Nigeria Prison Service. Armed military personnel were located in strategic locations around the prison.
Free movement of people and vehicles are no longer permitted around the place. Passengers moving by were frisked and vehicles searched.
Residents of Anambra had been protesting against the relocation of the detainees. But the Federal Government had reacted saying it was a mere rumour. But happenings around the facility proves otherwise.
One of the soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “We are here to ensure that the prison is not attacked by the people who have demonstrated their resentment over the transfer of the detainees.”
Professor Chuwuemeka Ike, the traditional Ruler of Ndikerionwu, a neighboring community to Ekwulobia , condemned the transfer of the detainees to the area.
He, however, acknowledged that prisons transfers are normal, but maintained that with the sensitive nature of the prisoners, the transfer of the Boko Haram detainee could have been avoided.
A press statement by the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Media, Mr James Eze, was not specific on whether the detainees had been relocated or not.
The governor had not made any official press statement on the issue as reported in some national dailies, “We wish to inform the general public that Governor Obiano never made any comments to these publications. Since the eruption of this controversy, Governor Obiano’s position has been consistent. This was fully reflected in the two press Statements issued on Sunday, June 28, 2015 and Wednesday July 1, 2015. In both statements, his message was simple – he re-assured Ndi Anambra that he was on top of the situation and that he was speaking with the relevant authorities to achieve a peaceful resolution of the issue. Governor Obiano’s commitment to this extremely sensitive issue remains the same.”
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Uche Eze in his reaction said the police would not want to comment on the matter as “it is purely an affair of the Nigerian Prisons Service.”
Mrs. Eucharia Azodo, representing the area in the House of Representatives, urged the Federal Government to rescind the decision in view of its security implications on the people of her constituency.
In a statement in Awka on Saturday, Azodo said the Boko Haram detainees would be better taken care of in a maximum security prison, because she claims the prison did not have the capacity to accommodate such high risk prisoners.
She said, “The rising tension following rumours that Boko Haram suspects were relocated from some Northern prisons to the South-East, precisely, Ekwulobia in Aguata Local Government of Anambra State, gives me great concern. We all are aware of the fact that Ekwulobia Prison in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State is not a maximum security prison. Whereas a large number of prisoners, about 134 inmates, are there already in a prison built to accommodate 85 inmates, a total number of 47 Boko Haram prisoners were brought to Ekwulobia Prison in the dead of the night of Sunday, June 28, 2015 amidst tight security.”
The youth wing of the apex Igbo socio- cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has flayed the Federal Government over the relocation.
The National President of Ohanaeze Youth Council, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro who spoke with our correspondent in Umuahia, described the action as “…exportation of terrorism to the peaceful South-East region.”
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