Protests Continue In Anambra Over B’Haram Prisoners Transfer | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Protests Continue In Anambra Over B’Haram Prisoners Transfer

Posted: Jul 1, 2015 at 5:32 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

– Govt Denies Allegation Of Complicity

By Christian Emeka  –  Awka 


Traders in Anambra State under the aegis of Anambra State Markets Traders Association, (AMATA) Tuesday, continued their protest against the alleged transfer of some Boko Haram suspects from Northern Prisons to South East Prisons.

The traders had on Saturday barricaded the Enugu- Onitsha Expressway in protest over the said transfer of the prisoners to the Ekwulobia prisons. President of the traders, Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo who was quoted to have said, “We heard 47 of them have been brought to Aguata prisons, we will not take that” questioned why the Federal Government transferred the prisoners to “South East Zone when there are more states with enough prison cells in the North.”

He said “We will protest today (Tuesday) at Ekwulobia, Aguata Local Government Area Headquarters over the transfer of the Boko Haram inmates to Aguata prisons because their presence here is security risk”.

Meanwhile, the Transform Nigeria Movement (TNM) also rejected the transfer of Boko Haram suspects to Ekwulobia Prison, saying it is anti peace and progress of the state.

Anambra State Coordinator of Transform Nigeria Movement, Comrade Obi Ochije who raised the objection said the civil society group was still hearing of the transfer as a rumour, as it was unthinkable for President Muhammadu Buhari to order for transfer of Prisoners in North East who are suspected of annihilating masses to a peaceful Southern Nigeria.

Ochije who is a community youth leader in Ezinano, Awka comprising of 20 villages said TNM would stage a protest should it be confirmed the Federal Government ordered the prison transfer to Anambra prison.

“As we congratulate President Buhari for his victory, we are saying he should know he is a President for all Nigeria and not a sectional president. We are asking why the 47 Boko Haram suspects were dumped in Anambra. This is a peaceful state and we do not want crisis here. Why would the suspects not be in prisons close to the jurisdiction of their offence as done in other climes including USA? Why bring this terror group to a densely populated area where there is no security?

“The Federal Government should send them back to the North East and we as a civil society group is still taking it as a rumour and once we confirm it in our own way, we would take to the streets because the disadvantage is too much and their members would storm the state to destabilise the state. None of our markets or religious worship places is secure to repel the attack at this period.

“Let the Federal Government not cause problem in Anambra state and should there be any break down of law and order, the Federal government should be held liable.”

The Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) also asked the federal government to disclose the true state of the alleged transfer.

Leader of the group in Anambra state, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo while reacting to the transfer of the Boko Haram suspects said, “the true state of the inmates should be disclosed to the people of the state, if they are repentant Boko Haram faithful through workshop, orientation and rehabilitation they should turn a new leaf but funding should be done by the Federal Government.”

He condemned the action as not having proper sensitisation to enable the people of the state to accept the transfer in good faith.

Ezeemo urged the prison officials to work round the clock to avoid the new arrivals infiltrating into the old inmates.

It would be recalled that the traders Monday shut the markets in the State to protest the alleged transfer.

Meanwhile, the Anambra state government has denied allegations that the transfer was done with its consent.

A statement by Governor Willie Obiano’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, James Eze showed how the Obiano led administration made frantic efforts to stop the relocation to no avail. The release further informed that having made such outstanding efforts to ensure the Boko Haram suspects remained in the North but was unsuccessful, he ensured the protests that erupted suddenly in the state was peaceful as it could have been hijacked to unleash mayhem.

Part of the statement signed by Eze on behalf of the Governor following accusation that he kept mute read: “Governor Obiano’s efforts to establish this understanding and achieve a speedy and peaceful resolution of the matter went to the highest authorities. He was given assurances that the matter would be looked into with a view to resolving it with dispatch.

“With these assurances he worked assiduously to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order during the peaceful demonstration staged by traders across the state on Saturday, June 27, 2015 against the relocation of the inmates.  “Since the demonstration, Governor Obiano has continued to engage the relevant authorities on behalf of Ndi Anambra to ensure an amicable resolution of the issue.

“He therefore urges Ndi Anambra and Ndigbo in general to remain calm and avoid anything that might lead to a breach of the peace as the matter is being resolved at the highest level.

“The attention of the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has been drawn to the mischievous speculations on the social media that the planned relocation of some Boko Haram convicts to some prisons in Anambra State was done with his tacit approval and endorsement. I wish to categorically dismiss these speculations, hearsay and beer parlour banters as fundamentally untrue and should be disregarded by Nigerians.

“The fact is that when Governor Obiano got wind of the planned relocation of these high risk prisoners to Anambra State, he quickly swung into action and contacted the relevant authorities to seek clarifications on the matter after which he raised several objections to the plan.

“Among Governor Obiano’s many objections are – That Anambra has been one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria in the past one year under his watch and that the arrival of these radical elements in any part of the state would disrupt this peace and lead to a new regime of a different kind of fear in the state.

“That Ekwulobia Prisons is not a Maximum Security Prison. It is therefore not suitable as holding place for convicted terrorists. Global experiences show that terrorists and terror suspects are kept in strongly fortified and isolated places. A good example is the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp where the US keeps high-risk terror suspects and convicts which is a military facility, located away from the people. Ekwulobia Prisons does not fit into this category of detention facilities.

“That Ekwulobia Prisons has a capacity to hold 85 inmates. At the moment, there are 135 inmates in the prison. Therefore, there is no space for new prisoners. The acute shortage of space presents a high possibility for the radicalisation of other inmates by the Boko Haram convicts.

“That unlike other locations where the terror-convicts are held in sparsely populated areas which makes their isolation from the people easy, Ekwulobia is a densely populated town. There is a very high risk of contact between these radical prisoners and the civilian population with an avoidable danger.

“That the relocation of these prisoners to Anambra may not have paid adequate attention to the sensibilities of the country, especially the fact that some ethnic populations have suffered the most from the activities of these convicts across the North.