Owerri Prison Escapees

Juliana Francis

A 42-year-old Okechukwu Edison and Sunday Morrison, who escaped from prison after being on awaiting trial for 11 years, are likely going back to jail following their arrest for kidnapping in Port Harcourt.

The suspects were arrested by Operatives of the Nigeria Police Force Intelligence Response Team (IRT) for the armed robbery and kidnapping of a female lawyer in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

After escaping from prison, one would have thought that both men would have gone under to start a new life, void of crime, but they did not. Rather, they formed a kidnapping gang.

Preliminary investigations revealed that both suspects, who hail from Rumuji in Rivers State’s Emohua Local Government Area, were long-time kidnappers, armed robbers, and car snatchers.

After successfully coordinating the kidnapping of a female legal practitioner in the city, the suspects were apprehended by detectives of the Force Intelligence Bureau Intelligence Response Team (FIB-IRT) on November 10, 2022, at Rumuola junction in Rivers State.

The two suspects, along with two other criminal gang members who carried out the kidnapping, had previously spent 11 years in the Nigeria Correctional Service, Imo State as awaiting trial inmates for the offence of kidnapping.

The suspects confessed to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) led by Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Olatunji Disu: “We left the correctional facility on Monday, April 5, 2022, during the attack on the prison by a group of gunmen who threw dynamite at the walls of the prison and commanded inmates to flee.  We went into kidnapping, robbery, and car theft after some armed soldiers invaded and destroyed the oil bunkering site we were making a living from after the jailbreak freedom as we lost everything that was sustaining our family.”

The suspects, along with another gang member who is also an ex-convict from the same prison facility, were later apprehended by police for kidnapping a female lawyer in Port Harcourt.

They were apprehended after IRT agents received information about the kidnapping of a female lawyer who had been held captive for three days. Police authorities directed their operatives to conduct an immediate search and rescue of the lawyer.

The lawyer was released after the suspected criminals were apprehended, and she identified two suspects in the Police net as the people who kidnapped her and stole N5 million from her bank account.

In recounting his prison experience, gang leader, Edison, stated that he was imprisoned because he loaned a car to a roommate named Emmanuel, who was later arrested and charged with kidnapping.

He also stated that he had spent 11 years as an awaiting trial inmate in the Imo State Prison prior to the jailbreak and that the attackers of the prison invaded the facility and ordered inmates to leave.

On kidnapping, he stated that they spotted the victim along Igwuruta Road coming out of a shop in the city and kidnapped her, then called Chukwuemeka Onu 25 male from his village to arrange for the safekeeping of their victim in an unfinished building.

According to Onu’s confession, he took Okechukwu, the gang leader, to Eneke, a semi-urban settlement in the city, to make arrangements for where to keep his bunkering equipment, not realising he was accompanied by a kidnapped woman.

One of the suspects also admitted that he was imprisoned in the Imo State prison prior to the jailbreak and had spent 14 years there before his case of armed robbery was reassigned to a new judge.

The IRT team is still looking into their involvement in other criminal activities in the state and making efforts to apprehend other gang members.

The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, through the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, had previously issued orders that all suspects arrested be prosecuted in the nation’s law courts as soon as possible.

According to Wikipedia, there was a prison break in Oweri Imo State on the 5th of April 2021, organised by men suspected to be members of IPOB.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owerri_prison_break

These were said to have attacked the prison with machine guns and grenades. They were able to penetrate the prison walls using explosives and attempted to take over armoury, but allegedly failed. It further stated that the group released over 1,844 inmates from the jail.

 

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