Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola needs no introduction. He is not only the immediate past Governor of Osun State, he is also the only Osun representative in the Federal Executive Council. But is he really discharging his role dutifully and creditably? Events of recent time have suggested otherwise. His tenure as minister, as his governornship, is one with gnashing of teeth and unpleasant tales.
While growing up, jailbreak was a rarity. We only watched it in the action packed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films. But today, it has become part of us, courtesy Rauf Aregbesola, a federal minister only active when public holidays are announced.
Since 2019 when he became a minister, no fewer than 6 jailbreaks have been recorded. On September 12, 2020, there was an attack on the medium security prison in Kabba, Kogi State where 240 of the 294 inmates in the custody escaped. On October 19, 2020, two jailbreaks were recorded at Edo prisons and 1,993 inmates escaped. On October 22, 2020, hoodlums broke into Ondo prison located at Okitipupa and freed 58 inmates. The same day in Ikoyi prison Lagos, attempts were made to free inmates but a combined team of correctional officers and soldiers repelled the attacks. On April 5, 2021, hoodlums again broke into Ikoyi prison with explosives and dynamites but this time, about 1844 inmates were freed. The operation lasted for two hours. On April 8, the Bauchi prison was under attack. On April 14, inmates and officers were injured in an attack on the Medium Security prison at Ubiaja , Edo State.
And just yesterday, an incident of bomb explosion was reporyt at Abolongo prison in Oyo town. The explosion came few days after a similar embarrassing and worrisome incident of jailbreak was recorded in the same prison where close to 1000 prisoners reportedly escaped after some gunmen attacked the correctional centre.
Why the high rate of jailbreak under the stewardship of Rauf Aregbesola? What is amiss? Are the jailbreaks deliberate? Are they as a result of sheer incompetence of Aregbesola?
Knowing Aregbesola as one with history of freeing criminals and making them escaping justice, one may be tempted to reason that some high ranking officials of the ministry might be hand in glove with the criminals running from long hand of the law.
In December 2001, a popular politician and member of the Osun State House of Assembly, Odunayo Olagbaju (aka Misty) was bludgeoned to death in broad day light in front of a police station in Moore, Ile-Ife. Eleven suspects were initially arraigned for the murder before seven more suspects were added to the list. But by the end of year 2002, the original eleven had been freed on bail while others were remanded. At the end of the court case, four of the suspects were convicted. Strangely, in November 2011, the then governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, basking in the euphoria of his one year in office, gave a Prerogative Pardon to the Convicts. Why did Aregbesola free convicts that confessed to have played a part in the assassination of Hon. Odunayo Olagbaju?
Is the foregoing event relatable to the current situation of jailbreaks across the country? Are the incident of jailbreaks not calling to question Aregbesola’s competence and integrity as the supervising minister over the country’s prisons? Beyond the conspiracy theory earlier painted, of his knack for freeing prisoners for, perhaps, personal and political reasons, one may reason that Aregbesola is overwhelmed and incapable of providing the needed leadership in the ministry he is manning. Aregbesola, terribly battling negative optics occasioned by his lacklustre in office as state governor, does not seem to be giving his best in the interior ministry. His effort to court media for political traction makes him pander to too much pettiness. He dissipates too much energy on inconsequential engagement. The other time, he was reported to have left his base in Abuja for Taraba to commission just one fire-fighting truck meant for the Federal Fire Service. Abuja to Taraba, a trip of 568km, will take close to 10 hours. Why should Aregbesola, in the name of always wanting to be in the news, slide to this pitiable level? Why should he allow his penchant for media embracement make his ministry suffer the needed leadership? His ministry suffer in all fronts because of his indiscretion. Under him as the supervising minister for the Federal Fire Service, the Service, for instance, in Q2 of 2021, received 638 distressed calls in which 27 lives were lost and property estimated at N3trillion destroyed. Can anyone be proud of the monstrous destruction of lives and properties?
It is time for Minister Aregbesola to buckle down and face the onerous tasks laid before him. He should dishabille himself of the garb of pettiness and inferiority complex that is taking a toll on his performance. He should pay more attention to the ugly trend of jailbreak with a view to finding lasting solution to it; rather than dabbling unduly into the affairs of the administration of Governor Oyetola, his successor. His devotion to undermining the government of Oyetola comes at a great price to Nigerians who now fear the consequences of condemned criminals being on the loose.
According to reports, a large number of NSCDC officers, under the watch of his ministry, are often carelessly posted to Osun State to give cover to him and his retinue of lieutenants who are spoiling for political fights with the incumbent governor. Some of these officers, expected to be providing security at strategic points around the country, including at the correctional centres which currently are subject of incessant attacks, are seen casually carrying out order for personal and political gains of the minister. Many of these men were photographed and videoed shooting sporadically during a congress recently held by a class of APC members loyal to Minister Aregbesola.
It has, again, been noted that a good number of these paramilitary operatives are equally attached to non-state actors espousing their loyalty to the minister. The unpatriotic action of using security men for political motive is perturbing and should no longer be encouraged and tolerated. The minister should withdraw the NSCDC men now so they can be assigned for duties that would be beneficial to all citizens of the country. Our correctional centres need efficient manning so the tide of prison-break in the country can be curtailed.
Aregbesola, further, should devote his time implementing government plans aimed at solving the perennial challenge of over-population and poor welfare of inmates in the country’s correctional facilities.
A word, they say, is enough for the wise.
Disclaimer: This piece represents the opinion of the writer not this medium, CityMirrorNews
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