• Ex-convicts narrate how stay in correctional centres hardened rather than reformed them
A number of suspected robbers recently arrested have attributed their foray into the underworld to their stay in the prison, with experts calling for total reform of correctional facilities and good justice administration system, reports KUNLE AKINRINADE.
In his neighbourhood in Agege, a Lagos suburb, the fear of Wale a.k.a. Walesstic was the beginning of wisdom. His name sent jitters down the spines of residents until the night the youthful member of a notorious street gang, Awawa, was arrested after his gang attacked rival gang boys in the area, resulting in the destruction of properties and break down of law and order.
Walestic was arraigned before a magistrate court in Ikeja and subsequently sent to the Kirikiri Maximum Prison, where he was remanded until his bail conditions were perfected and he regained his freedom.
But by the time the 22-year-old mechanic turned gangster returned from prison, his life was never the same again until he was felled by police bullets during an exchange of gun fire in a botched robbery operation.
Although his stay in prison was for seven months, he met a group of boys who were serving various jail terms for stealing. They struck friendship and he joined their gang as soon as they were freed. He became more daring and fiendish but was killed when his gang attacked some residents of the Alagbado suburb of the city about three years ago.
Walestic’s sad story found an encore in the deadly robbery ring of Simon Tyozenda, a native of Benue State, and Lucky Friday (24) an indigene of Delta State, who confessed that they formed their robbery gang in Kirikiri Prison.
The duo were arrested by the operatives of Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos State Police Command for attempting to kill a cab driver after snatching his vehicle, a Toyota Camry saloon marked APP 145 EE on the Lekki-Epe highway on March 14, 2018.
Simon, the gang’s leader, had used his girlfriend’s mobile app to order a cab hailing driver around 11:00 p.m. and hatched a plan to lure the driver of the Toyota Camry to a desolate location, kill the driver and take away his vehicle.
According to the police, the suspects were taking the driver to a deserted axis of Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos, when their vehicle was stopped by RRS officers for a stop and search, while one of the suspects seated at the back of the vehicle was spotted hiding a long knife.
It was said that the two ex-convicts who were released from the Kirikiri Maximum Prison in January, 2018, had in February, 2018, snatched a Toyota Corolla marked FST 663 EZ along Badore Road, Ajah at about 2 am after killing its driver.
The body of the driver, Godfrey Ovie, dropped in Badore by the suspects, was discovered the following day by the police.
The suspects had sold the car to one Usman for N350,000 and the buyer was about moving the car to Jigawa State after paying N100,000 out of the said sum when RRS undercover arrested him.
‘How we formed robbery gangs inside prisons’