Posted by By Anayo Okoli on
AWKA — THE bloody crisis rocking the commercial city of Onitsha escalated Sunday night after suspected miscreants stormed the Onitsha prisons and set about 240 inmates free. Governor Peter Obi who, weekend, banned the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), NARTO and Anambra Vigilante Service (AVS) told the police to explore the option of shooting hoodlums on sight if they (hoodlums) refused to allow peace to return.....
Onitsha: Hoodlums free 240 prisons inmates By Anayo Okoli Posted to the Web: Tuesday, June 20, 2006 * As clashes worsen * Gov Obi asks Police to shoot on sight
AWKA — THE bloody crisis rocking the commercial city of Onitsha escalated Sunday night after suspected miscreants stormed the Onitsha prisons and set about 240 inmates free. Governor Peter Obi who, weekend, banned the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), NARTO and Anambra Vigilante Service (AVS) told the police to explore the option of shooting hoodlums on sight if they (hoodlums) refused to allow peace to return.
The governor also imposed a one-week curfew on Onitsha between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. It was gathered that the miscreants forced their way into the prison yard at about 2 a.m., burnt the gate, and the office block before setting the inmates free. This is the second time in six months that Onitsha prisons has been burnt and prisoners set free. More than 700 prisoners were set free in February during the cartoon reprisal riots in the commercial town.
An Assistant Comptroller of Prisons confirmed the incident, but declined to give details. Four of the inmates have since returned to the prison. One of them, Bright Chukwujekwu, said the hoodlums came at about 2.10 a.m., shooting indiscriminately into the air. “When they approached the gate of the prisons, nine hoodlums, and armed with locally-made pistols, pump action gun, machetes, axes and other dangerous weapons, ordered the prison officials to open the gate," he said. They dealt machete cuts on the prisons officials, who they believed were not co-operating and were in possession of keys to the cells. They went to the cells, broke them open with axes and machetes and marched the prisoners to Akpaka forest reserve, their base. Early on Monday morning, they conveyed the inmates on motor bikes to an unidentified place in Onitsha town,” Chukwujekwu said. Obi insists MASSOB must quit Meanwhile, Governor Peter Obi, receiving the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of operations, Mr. Mike Okiro, maintained that MASSOB, NARTO and Anambra Vigilante Service (AVS) were not wanted in the state. Okiro described the crisis as “very worrisome.” He warned that there must be peace as the police would not spare anybody. Governor Obi said: “I have said it every day, all of us know what the problem is and those behind it.
This problem is easy and can easily be solved. All we want is let every group leave Onitsha, and by that, I mean MASSOB, NARTO, AVS, whosoever. So, what the police should do is to direct that everybody leaves and any of them who does not leave shoot on sight. They must leave: that is all. “The police know what to do. I'm saying they know the problem. As the chief security officer of the state, I'm saying we do not want these people again and they are our problem. We don’t want these people. They are causing problems for us. Some people are behind them and these people represent nothing that is good for the people of Anambra State. I am not giving them order, they know what to do. This is the problem. “And we are saying they should leave the state and all of you if you mean well for this state should be in the same fight that MASSOB and NARTO leave and expose those behind them because some people are behind them.
These people represent nothing good to the people. All they represent is evil.” DIG Okiro who was at Government House, Awka to be briefed by the governor said government would not allow hoodlums to take over Onitsha because of its commercial importance to Nigeria. Asked why the police still guard NARTO office and have not arrested any member of NARTO, even after NARTO has been outlawed by the state government, Okiro said he could not confirm who had been arrested so far until he was properly briefed. He said anybody who went against the law must be arrested “no matter where he comes from. “If any group has been proscribed, it remains so and the police will not support illegality. It is our duty to make sure that law is enforced. Any group that is proscribed, until there is reversal, it remains proscribed. “The situation is worrisome to everybody. That is why I am here. That is why I am here to study the situation and come out with a specific strategy to stop it,” Okiro said.
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