We the Presidents General (Community Leaders) of the 177 communities in Anambra State, under the auspices of the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU) received with shock, embarrassment and disdain the news that the Nigerian Prisons Service, a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs had transferred some detainees of the dreaded violent terrorists of Boko Haram extraction from Borno State in the North East Zone of Nigeria to Ekwulobia in Aguata Local government Area of Anambra State.
It will be recalled that the people of the Southern part of Nigeria, particularly the South Easterners, their worship centres, business outlets and locations, social gatherings etc were the first targets of this callous, vicious and violent organization that killed, maimed and displaced our people from their various areas of livelihood in Northern Nigeria.
We believe with every sense of responsibility that transferring these violent religious bigots and fundamentalists who consider Christians as infidels who do not adhere to their bizarre beliefs and consequentially ought to be exterminated to Ekwulobia, was ill conceived, ill considered, grossly insensitive, condemnable and therefore totally unacceptable.
If otherwise why should the Federal Government and the prisons authority relocate some of these dreaded Boko Haram insurgents to Ekwulobia, Anambra State where:
1. In the recent past its people living in Northern Nigeria were deliberately and viciously attacked, and those who were lucky to be alive, were financially and mentally traumatized and wrecked having been displaced from their area of domicile and means of livelihood.
2. The Ekwulobia prison is a minimum security prison located in the middle of a densely populated community, surrounded by tertiary institutions, and therefore grossly inadequate for such inmates of high security risks.
3. There is no military presence in case of the recurrent emergency of prison-breaks associated with the Boko Haram insurgents. This is in flagrant disregard of prison conventions and best practices worldwide.
4. The courts in Anambra State have no jurisdiction to try them for offences committed outside the state since these Boko Haram detainees have not been tried and convicted and should therefore be classified as awaiting trial.
5. The lives of the Boko Haram detainees could be at grave risks and endangered because of the likelihood of reprisal or revenge attack by family members of the victims of Boko Haram insurgents in the Northern part of Nigeria.
The continued presence of these inmates in Ekwulobia prisons is a trauma too many for Ndi Igbo who have not recovered from the physical and psychological trauma of the past and recent past occasioned by gross maltreatment from some fellow Nigerians in different parts of the country. It is incomprehensible that a minimum security prison located in Ekwulobia, a densely populated community with no military presence should be considered suitable for housing some of these dreaded Boko Haram detainees.
We therefore urge the Federal Government to rescind this decision and take immediate steps to relocate these detainees outside Anambra State and indeed the entire South East.
Mr Peter Nwagu
Dr JAP Okolo