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Reconsider that decision

Published by The Nation on Mon, 13 Jul 2015

FG should rethink relocation of Boko Haram prisoners to the south eastIT is not unusual in a democracy for people to protest against public policies for various reasons. This is the hallmark of the democratic order. However, in our clime, such protests and the response to them are often smeared by sectarian considerations. It is against this background that we see the plan by the federal authorities to move some insurgents serving terms in some Northern prisons to Ekwulobia in Anambra State in the South East, that is being stoutly resisted by the governments, leaders and people of the region.Last week, governors of the five states in the zone rose from a meeting in Owerri, the Imo State capital, and requested that the Federal Government should restrict Boko Haram prisoners to the federal capital city, Abuja. They reasoned, quite logically, that the South East already has more than its fair share of security challenges. They also argued that only Abuja, with the concentration of security agencies, devices and personnel, could house such men and women.But, earlier, the people of Anambra State had protested against the plan on the grounds that Northern prisoners should not be brought to their state. We consider that line of reasoning untenable as all prisons in the country are owned by the Federal Government and the prisoners were tried and sentenced under federal laws. If the protest along that line is sustained, there would soon come a time when deciding where to locate detainees and prisoners would become a problem.Prominent political prisoners had been moved in the past from the scene of their alleged crimes. The late Chief Gani Fawehinmi was jailed at the Gashua prison while the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, after the famous treasonable felony trials of the First Republic was moved to the Calabar prison. The people could, applying sentiments, have protested the decisions on political, ethnic or sentimental grounds, or argued, perhaps irrationally, that the decision to move the political prisoners to their areas could generate tension and endanger the lives of their kith and kin in Yoruba land.We, however, call on the prison authorities to consider the plea because of inadequate security network in the area. It is known that dare-devil attacks had been launched by heavily armed insurgents to free their colleagues. In Koton-Karfe, Kogi State, such an attack was launched and prisoners set free. In Ado Ekiti, too, a jail break last year was said to have been informed by the presence of some Boko Haram insurgents there. When this is considered alongside the blood-chilling operations of the terrorists, it is not surprising that the Anambra State people are worried at the frightening prospect of sending some of them to the state.In 2011, the suicide bombing of the United Nations House in Abuja and the unprecedented earlier attack on the Police Headquarters at the federal capital city caught the attention of the world. Since then, the sacking of military and police formations in Bama, Borno State, abduction of more than 200 secondary school girls in Chibok, Borno State, capture of towns in the North East, successes recorded against the Nigerian military and internationalisation of their operations have shown that Boko Haram is a well coordinated and funded group.The war of words involving Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano and his predecessor, Mr Peter Obi, is uncalled- for. The suggestion that the relocation was approved by the former governor is ridiculous as the Federal Government does not need such endorsement regarding where to keep prisoners.The Ekwulobia prison is small and thus unsuitable for such use. Jailed terrorists are meant to be kept in maximum security prisons where the security forces are at alert at all times and the facilities adequate to deter attempts at freeing them by force. We call on the Federal Government to upgrade facilities in all the prisons and improve security in and around them.The post Reconsider that decision appeared first on The Nation.]]>
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