The federal government has moved the dreaded convicted Boko Haram terrorists to Anambra State on Sunday night, June 28, despite the protest by Governor Willie Obiano. Traders in the state also protested against it on last Saturday
| By Maureen Chigbo | June 29, 2015 @ 9.30 GMT |
DESPITE the protest of the Anambra State government for the Army to shelve the relocation of convicted Boko Haram Terrorists to prisons in the State, on Sunday, June 28, heavily armed soldiers last night escorted about 47 of the criminals to the Ekwulobia Prison.
Although one of the media aides to Governor Willie Obiano could not confirm the incident officially to Realnews, he said that the information available to them indicates that the convicted terrorists are already in the state.
It should be recalled that traders in Anambra State on Saturday. June 27, protested the planned relocation of the convicts. Also, Obiano, in a press release entitled: “The Planned Relocation of Boko Haram Convicts to Anambra Prisons: Setting the Records Straight” issued on Saturday but made available to Realnews this morning, categorically dismissed speculations in the social media that is it supported the movement of the prisoners to the state. He described such media reports as “hearsay and beer parlour banters as fundamentally untrue and should be disregarded by Nigerians”.
The statement signed by James Eze, senior special adviser to the governor on media, said 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 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.
“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,” the governor said.
“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 radicalisation of other inmates by the Boko Haram convicts,” he argued.
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.
The governor argued 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,” the statement said.
Boko Haram terrorists have killed more than 15,000 people and displaced about 1.5 million persons in the three Northern States of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe since it waged war against the country in 2009. In fact, the relocation of the prisoners is a painful reminder to some victims of Boko Haram of their losses given that 12 sons from one of the Towns in Anambra State near to Ekwuluobia were massacred in one day the insurgents in one day in Mubi few years ago.
That is why Obiano has urged Anambra people and Igbos 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.”