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Fear grips as criminal suspects allegedly escape from SARS cell

Police deny cell break in Lagos

At least, 27 suspected armed robbers, murderers and kidnappers have allegedly escaped from the detention facility of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Ikeja, Lagos State Police Command.

According to sources, the suspects, acting together, tricked the SARS Station Officer (SO), who opened the cell door for them, leading to their escape. They reportedly pounced on him, beating him black and blue before escaping with his ATM card and phone.

This escape occurred after directives came from Force Headquarters, Abuja, that all SARS operatives should vacate their offices and be on standby for further directives.

It was 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 ruckus to attract the attention of the Station Officer (SO), 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, shooting sporadically to cow them, but deliberately didn’t fire at them. Nobody was injured or killed. They escaped by scaling the fence. There were 250 detainees, but police are presently looking for 27.

“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.

“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 on him, beating him seriously and then escaped,” the source narrated.

Before the disbandment of SARS, it was also gathered that there had been complaints about different detention facilities in Lagos being overcrowded due to correctional centres refusing to accept new inmates for fear of COVID-19.

“Since correctional centres refused to accept those remanded in their facilities by the courts, insisting that police take them for COVID-19 test, the unit got a remand order and detained the suspects in SARS cell,” said the source.

But the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Muyiwa Adejobi, has denied that such incident ever happened, describing 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, 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.”

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