CELL BREAK: LAGOS COMMAND DEBUNKS NEWS OF SUSPECTS ESCAPE FROM SARS DETENTION FACILITY
There was apprehension over the report of suspected armed robbers, cultists, murderers and kidnappers, who allegedly escaped from the detention facility of the scrapped Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Ikeja, Lagos State Police Command.
P.M.EXPRESS gathered that the suspects, acting together, tricked the SARS Station Officer, who opened the cell door for them, leading to their escape.
They reportedly pounced on him and beat him black and blue.
They were also said to have collected his ATM card, mobile phone and then escaped, which was not yet confirmed from the victim as he was said to be hospitalized.
There was no actual number of the suspects, who were said to have escaped but sources said it was between 27 and 56, which was debunked by the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, SP Olumuyiwa Adejobi.
The purported escape happened after directives came from Force Headquarters, Abuja, that all SARS operatives should vacate their offices and be on standby for further directives. The SARS operatives were then said to have moved to remain standby.
It was further gathered that following the withdrawal of SARS operatives from their offices, Mobile Policemen were deployed to SARS building at the Command to watch over the detention facility. But on Wednesday night, the detainees allegedly escaped after causing a rumpus to attract the attention of the Station Officer, who unlocked the cell door.
A source said, “The detainees invaded different offices and escaped with laptops. They found some machetes, which were exhibits, armed themselves and attempted to attack the Mobile Policemen. The Mobile Policemen opened fire, shot sporadically to cow them, but deliberately did not fire at them. Nobody was injured or killed. The suspects were said to have escaped by scaling the fence.
There were 250 detainees, but Police are presently looking for 27. But before orders came that SARS operatives should be moved from their offices, the suspects had heard about the #EndSARS protests and disbandment and started hurling insults at some of the SARS operatives. In fact, one of them allegedly poured urine on a SARS operative.
When SARS was disbanded, there was jubilation among the detainees. The SO used to sleep at the office and go home after the weekends. Since all operatives had been ordered to vacate the SARS office, only Mobile Police were at the gate to the SARS office.
When the detainees started shouting Emergency! Emergency!! the SO, who was in his office sleeping, rushed down to open the door, thinking a detainee’s life was in danger, but they swooped, beating him seriously and then they escaped into the premises of the command.”
Before the disbandment of SARS, there had been complaints of different detention facilities in Lagos being overcrowded. The overcrowding was due to correctional centres refusal to accept new inmates over fear of COVID-19.
“Since correctional centres refused to accept those remanded in their facilities by the Courts, insisting that Police had to take them for COVID-19 test, the unit got a remand order and detained the suspects in SARS cell. In fact, one of those that escaped was a suspect arrested in possession of three rifles,” said the source.
Further information to all State Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (SCIID) SARS units, Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Cultism units is that all their case files and Court cases should be handed over to the SCIID, where the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of SCIID, will give them to other officers to handle.
The PPRO, Adejobi, who denied such an incident ever happened, further stated described the information as mischievous.
He said, “The attention of the Lagos State Command has been drawn to a rumour making waves on the social media that some suspects of the disbanded SARS escaped from the cell at the Command Headquarters, Ikeja, Lagos State on Wednesday. The Command perceives such rumour unfounded, mischievous and baseless. It is an attempt to cause fear and panic in the minds of Lagosians, and distracting the Command. In line with the directive of the IGP, SCIID, has taken over the disbanded SARS and other Tactical Units’ buildings in Ikeja and other satellite offices across the state, including the suspects. It is pertinent to state that some of the suspects, who have been convicted, have undergone COVID-19 test, which is a prerequisite to accepting them into correctional centres; but the Command awaits their results before further actions. The suspects in all the cases handled by the disbanded SARS are intact”.
“The DCP, Yetunde Longe, has temporarily relocated to the disbanded SARS building at Ikeja for thorough supervision and accountability of the taking over process. The Command therefore urges the general public to regard the news as a rumour, baseless and mischievous to suit the intention of the originator(s) as the Command is committed to reforming the policing system and providing adequate security for all in the state.”