Not less than 55 suspects arrested on Saturday afternoon in Effium community, Ohaukwu local government area of Ebonyi State by a combined team of security services following renewed communal clashes in the area, have reportedly escaped from custody hours after their arrest.
The suspects were arrested at Okpuduma village of the community with arms, dangerous weapons and charms, during a raid of the area led by the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Taoreen Lagbaja, who was on an operational visit to the area.
The raid was also witnessed by the State deputy governor, Barr. Kelechi Igwe.GOC Lagbaja, was also accompanied by the state Commissioner of Police, Aliyu Garba, and Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Chief Stanley Okoro Emegha.
The visit was to ensure the arrest of the suspected warlords who were said to be camping in the village despite effort by security agents to fish them out and restore normalcy in the troubled area.
After the arrest of the suspects, the Gen. Lagbaja and the team proceeded to Nwekendiagu village in the community while the suspects were handed over to the Police for onward movement to the police command headquarters in Abakaliki, the state capital.
Source said immediately the team left the community, 55 out the 66 suspects escaped from custody and their whereabouts was unknown at the time of filling this report.
In an interview with the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Chief Stanley Emegha, he described the escape of the suspects as total sabotage on the part of the security agencies.
He accused the security agents of conspiracy and aiding the escape of the suspects.
“Our visit today was a major breakthrough by arresting those people but very unfortunate that out of the 66, security agencies that were saddled with the responsibility of guarding those people to Abakaliki compromised, as we moved, they release them and the Governor through the Deputy Governor has demanded for an explanation from the CP and the GOC.
“The Commissioner of Police was there, he saw them. It was my insistence that those people must be arrested, that these are the warriors and they shouldn’t be allowed to stay in the community. So, it is compromise on the part of the security. The reason why we have been having this problem in Effium is because the security has been compromised. What happened this afternoon is very clear to everyone that they have compromised,” he added.
But when contacted, the state Commissioner of Police dismissed the claim that there was compromise on the part of the police.
He acknowledged that the aressted 66 suspects were no longer complete but refused to comment further on their escape from custody.