The Benin Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday expressed shock and disappointment over reports of the escape of kidnap and armed robbery suspects from the custody of the police in Benin City.

In a statement signed by its Chairman, Mr Pius Oiwoh and Secretary, Andrew Lawani, respectively, the body of lawyers asked the authorities to immediately work towards apprehending the escapees and punish anyone found culpable in aiding their escape.

The organisation noted that the development was not only capable of soiling the public image of the state, but it was also unacceptable, coming less than three months after the last jailbreak.

“The NBA, Benin branch notes with mind boggling astonishment and an unwanted but a deep sense of foreboding the most unwelcome new year 2021 news of the escape of kidnapping and armed robbery suspects from the custody of the Edo State Police Command Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Benin City.

“This is the second time in the space of three months that Edo State will be in the news for jailbreaks. This does not do any good for our dear state.

“While it is the wish of all of us who love our beloved Edo State that we should be in the headlines, we do not wish that our dear state should be in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

“These negative headlines have the Siamese effect of damaging our reputation as a peaceful, loving, hardworking and welcoming people and also scaring would-be investors from tapping into the potential of our dear state,” the lawyers maintained.

They noted that as members of a profession committed to upholding the rule of law, all those found to have abetted the suspected criminals in their escape must be punished.

“Let us state without equivocation that while totally condemning the circumstances which led to this recent cell break, we demand that all the escapees be urgently traced and brought back to lawful custody and that their accomplices who have aided and abetted this most heinous of offences be brought to book forthwith.

“In the branch’s new year message, the bar had committed itself to joining efforts with other well meaning individuals to address the rampant insecurity situation in the state.

“The bar wishes to use this opportunity to restate that commitment and to state that the challenge we face in our state is one which requires that all hands be on deck to solve the situation.

“This is not the time for the agencies in charge of our security to suppress information but to adopt a combative approach in dealing with would-be collaborators who have by their actions made our state unsafe.

“We enjoin the agencies responsible for keeping us safe to collaborate with all men and women of goodwill to prevent our state from descending into the Hobbesian state of nature where life is short, nasty and brutish,” the association noted.

Meanwhile, the state police command has confirmed the rearrest of the two of the suspect who escaped.

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