The Federal Government has said prisoners who escaped from the Owerri Correctional Centre during Monday’s attack will be granted amnesty if they voluntarily return.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, gave the assurance when he visited the Owerri Correctional Centre on Tuesday.
Recall that over 1800 inmates escaped from the facility when it was attacked by yet-to-be identified gunmen while 36 stayed back.
Aregbesola pledged that if those who escaped returned willingly, they would be pardoned from a trial for unlawful escape.
He however said they will still be made to face trial for their actual offences and serve their jail terms, if convicted.
He vowed that those who perpetrated the attack would be apprehended and prosecuted.
The minister who noted that the perpetrators operated as terrorists, described the jailbreak and the razing of the Imo State Police Command headquarters as the worst in the recent history of the country.
“Unlawful escape from custody is a crime but the government in its magnanimity will grant amnesty to prisoners who willfully return.
“They will no longer be charged with an unlawful escape but only for the initial crimes that took them to prison. So we urge all escapees to return before they are caught on the run,” Aregbesola said.
Meanwhile, more than10 inmates had on Tuesday voluntarily returned to the facility in the aftermath of Monday’s attack.
One of the voluntary returnees, is one Pastor John-Valentine Ibekwe, the senior pastor of House of Solution and Deliverance Ministry Awo-Omama.
Ibekwe said he escaped from the facility after inmates were forced out by the gunmen who attacked the correctional centre.
He explained that his lawyer, who he called, advised him to return to the facility when he (Ibekwe) got home on Monday morning.
Ibekwe added that the offence that landed him in prison was not a criminal matter.
“What landed me in prison was a help I rendered to somebody. I did not commit any criminal offence. The lawyer, Mr. Alex Williams, told me to go back to the prison and that it would be better than absconding since he had been handling the matter. I respected him by voluntarily coming back,” he said.