Oyo: We won’t spare those involved in prison escape

Christopher Oji, Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan

The Oyo State Police Command has commenced an orderly room trial on the police Inspector that allowed a suspected serial killer, Sunday Sodipo, to escape from a police cell.

The State Commissioner of Police, Mr Joe Nwachukwu Enwonwu, vowed on Monday to round up all those involved in the escape of the suspect and to re-arrest Sodipo.

Commissioner Enwonwu also gave a stern directive to his men to be on the alert with a view to dealing decisively with criminal elements in the State.

The police chief told reporters that the criminal suspect, Sodipo, 19, escaped from police custody at Mokola police division, Ibadan on Tuesday, August 11, at about 7 pm. According to him, an Inspector of Police, who was not on duty, collected the keys to the cell and opened the cell to take the suspect to have his bath and from there, the prisoner ran away. Efforts, he stated, had commenced ever since then to re-arrest him by police personnel, community leaders, youth vigilantes, hunters, among other security stakeholders.

Sodipe, who confessed that he had killed at least six persons for ritual purposes in Akinyele Local Government Area of the State when he was paraded before journalists on Friday, July 17 at Eleyele Ibadan, was said to have been taken to court thereafter and he was remanded in the police custody, at the Homicide Section of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Iyaganku, Ibadan.

The police commissioner said the police inspector involved in the escape of the detainee has been detained and is currently facing an orderly room trial which will be concluded by Tuesday.

In an interview with journalists, Enwonwu said: ‘In every 12, there is always a Judas, there is always a fifth columnist, and there is always a mole. The policeman, who committed this gross misconduct is on his own. We have taken adequate and appropriate measure against him, which is first, we have defaulted him (booked for the offence). Second, we detained him. Third, we have commenced disciplinary procedure of his trial, which has been concluded, and we will pursue it to the logical conclusion.

‘In addition, since we got wind of what had happened, we have not rested on our oars. We are all out, looking for the serial killer in all nooks and crannies of Oyo State and even beyond. We have also made press publication to the print and electronic media to publicise with his photograph on how we can re-arrest him.’

Answering a question on how Sodipe escaped from police custody and whether he disappeared as being insinuated, Enwonwu explained: ‘How can he disappear? Is he not a human being? He did not disappear. I cannot be everywhere. But around the time they said it happened, I was told that he was brought out, for him to have his meal and possibly his birth in addition. In the process, he took to his heels and ran away.”

When asked if his legs were not chained, the police boss answered: ‘Like I said, I was not in the station. Those are the questions that I am sure the adjudicating officer, who is trying him, would have put to the Police Inspector.’

He also responded to an allegation that majority of all the suspects arrested in connection with Akinyele killings have been freed, Enwonwu said: ‘That is not correct. All the people who’re charged are still in our custody. It is only the serial killer that escaped. I am sure with all the efforts we are making, and God is on our side, we will re-arrest him since the legal advice is already out.’

Fielding questions on whether angry residents of Akinyele would not possibly embark on jungle justice for suspected criminals based on Sodipe’s escape, the CP answered: ‘I may not rule that out if they sight that serial killer. From the information we gathered while searching for him, the mother has been ostracized from that community (Aponmode, Moniya, Ibadan). She has packed her things and relocated to another part of Ibadan. So, the anger that has bottled up in that community, I believe, if not checked, they will still take laws into their hands, if they sight him.

‘But be that as it may, we have to follow due process and the rule of law. We as law enforcement agents and officers cannot encourage people to seek for self-help, or take laws into their hands by resorting to jungle justice in situations like this. But everybody should be vigilant, they should be at alert, they should watch out for him since a good number of them knows him. If in any way, they sight him, they should apprehend him and draw our attention to it, so that we can re-arrest the man.

‘I also want to use the opportunity to appeal to them to continue to be law-abiding and continue to collaborate and cooperate with us the police because we mean well. If we did not mean well, we would not have arrested him in the first instance. Just like I said that in every 12, there would likely be a mole. As time goes on, we would fish them out. And that is why we want to get the man alive so that we will find out from him, who and who was behind his escape. Was it a mistake on the part of the Inspector or it was collusion for him to run away on that particular night?’

‘The measures we have taken to deal with criminals in the State has been to strategise crime control mechanisms of proactive policing which emphasizes on community policing partnership with all the stakeholders, other security agencies, military, vigilante, hunters, traditional rulers, etc. We collaborate, cooperate and it has been working positively. We also do visibility policing and patrols, raids of criminal hideouts on a regular basis. It paid off in Okeho Bank robbery where we recovered five assault rifles and arrested five suspects so far. We have arrested several of them including car snatchers, armed robbers, kidnappers, etc.’

Nwachukwu advised the people of Oyo State to go about their lawful activities and provide the police with useful information and tips.

‘They also need to be extra vigilant, at alert and sensitive to the environment at all times. We are equal to the task and our response time to distress calls is very fast with new vehicles provided by the State Governor, Seyi Makinde,’ he assured.