THE PLANNED RELOCATION OF BOKO HARAM CONVICTS TO ANAMBRA PRISONS
SETTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT
The attention of the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has been drawn to the mischievous speculations on the social media that the planned relocation of some Boko Haram convicts to some prisons in Anambra State was done with his tacit approval and endorsement. I wish to categorically dismiss these speculations, hearsay and beer parlour banters as fundamentally untrue and should be disregarded by Nigerians.
The fact is that when governor Obiano got wind of the planned relocation of these high risk prisoners to Anambra State, he quickly swung into action and contacted the relevant authorities to seek clarifications on the matter after which he raised several objections to the plan.
Among Governor Obiano’s many objections are –
That Anambra has been one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria in the past one year under his watch and that the arrival of these radical elements in any part of the state would disrupt this peace and lead to a new regime of a different kind of fear in the state.
That Ekwulobia Prisons is not a Maximum Security Prison. It is therefore not suitable as holding place for convicted terrorists. Global experiences show that terrorists and terror suspects are kept in strongly fortified and isolated places. A good example is the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp where the US keeps high-risk terror suspects and convicts which is a military facility, located away from the people. Ekwulobia Prisons does not fit into this category of detention facilities.
That Ekwulobia Prisons has a capacity to hold 85 inmates. At the moment, there are 135 inmates in the prison. Therefore, there is no space for new prisoners. The acute shortage of space presents a high possibility for the radicalization of other inmates by the Boko Haram convicts.
That unlike other locations where the terror-convicts are held in sparsely populated areas which makes their isolation from the people easy, Ekwulobia is a densely populated town. There is a very high risk of contact between these radical prisoners and the civilian population with an avoidable danger.
That the relocation of these prisoners to Anambra may not have paid adequate attention to the sensibilities of the country, especially the fact that some ethnic populations have suffered the most from the activities of these convicts across the North.
Governor Obiano’s efforts to establish this understanding and achieve a speedy and peaceful resolution of the matter went to the highest authorities. He was given assurances that the matter would be looked into with a view to resolving it with dispatch.
With these assurances he worked assiduously to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order during the peaceful demonstration staged by traders across the state on Saturday, June 27, 2015 against the relocation of the inmates. Since the demonstration, Governor Obiano has continued to engage the relevant authorities on behalf of Ndi Anambra to ensure an amicable resolution of the issue.
He therefore urges Ndi Anambra and Ndigbo in general to remain calm and avoid anything that might lead to a breach of the peace as the matter is being resolved at the highest level.
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media