FG declares custodial centres red zones
By Blessing Olaifa, Abuja
The Federal Government on Friday ordered squadron commanders to use maximum force to henceforth defend custodial centres across the country.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who gave the order, declared custodial centres across Nigeria as red flag zones for any form of attacks or intrusion.
He said whoever attempts to attack any centre henceforth would regret it as the Federal Government would no longer tolerate attacks on the facilities.
Aregbesola warned that the commanders would be held responsible should there be any “successful “attacks on any facility, asserting that they were armed in order to defend the facilities.
The Minister sounded the warnings while addressing squadron commanders at the headquarters of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Abuja.
In his speech tagged “inviolable custodial centres“ Aregbesola said the centres are the symbols of Nigeria authority and sovereignty and therefore would be defended at all cost.
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Aregbesola said: ”This meeting is very important considering the security challenges we face in the country at the moment.
“It is not in dispute that attempts are always made to compromise the integrity of the custodial centres – from within or without or simultaneously. This ranges from the mild to the very serious, with varying degrees of success.
“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.
“ It should be clear that a pattern of attack on custodial centres is emerging, in which the current security challenges are being used to stage attacks on our facilities.
“Let me commend you for your professionalism, diligence and sacrifice in the performance of your duty which have upheld the integrity of our custodial centres.
“Some of the escaped inmates from Edo have been arrested for committing murder and other crimes. One in particular went after those who provided the witness for his conviction.
“The custodial facilities are a symbol of the authority of the Nigerian State. They are sacred and inviolable institutions. You will notice that they are usually built around military fortresses, to show how important they are.
“This is to deter would-be attackers from inside or outside. More importantly, you are armed and positioned to directly guard them and defend their integrity. Your mission is to defend the facilities at all cost. Let me repeat again, defend them at all cost.
“You are empowered by the highest authority in the land to use every means necessary to defend the custodial centres against internal and external aggression.
“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 live to regret it.”