People in Ikenanzizi Alike, Obowo, a community in Imo State, are gripped by fear following the escape from prison of an alleged notorious criminal, Chukwuebuka Adiele, 30, who is known as Ebuka to his friends and gang members.
Ebuka, was convicted and sentenced to a 10-year prison term at the Federal Prison, located at Afara, by a Chief Magistrate Court, Umuahia, Abia State, on November 21, 2017, for various offences ranging from arson, robbery and attempted murder.
Precisely on December 8, after he began serving the prison term, Sunday Sun learnt that he feigned sick and was taken to the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Umuahia, by prison officials. A source at the hospital told Sunday Sun that after being admitted, he attacked and injured the prison officials and hospital staff with medical instruments, overpowered them and escaped.
After making his getaway, he was said to have returned to his family house in Ikenanzizi Alike communtiy in Obowo, where he held an all-night party for his gang members and admirers, who gave him a heroic welcome to the consternation of neighbours, who had few weeks back rejoiced over his incarceration.
Expectedly news of his escape created fear and panic among residents, several of whom have now fled from their homes for fear of being killed or kidnapped.
During the all-night celebration that followed his escape, Ebuka and his gang members were said to have drank, smoked, and sporadically fired gunshots, boasting that they would deal with all their perceived enemies.
The following morning, they broke into the family house of his uncle, an American returnee, who has been his benefactor, one Chibueze Adiele and carted away household items such as air conditioners, refrigerators, beds, washing machines, plasma television sets and other valuable properties, estimated to be worth about N1 million, a family source said.
Sunday Sun also learnt that he even sold a water pumping machine, which Chibueze imported from the United States, to sink a borehole for his people, and dared him to react, but instead of doing so, the victim quietly fled the community, and is now taking refuge at different places, pending when prison officials would apprehend Ebuka.
The fear of Ebuka has sent jitters down the spines of members of the community, some of who have fled to other towns like Okigwe, Umuahia, and Owerri to take refuge as he and his gang members have sworn to deal with anyone that stands on their way.
Meanwhile, Chibueze, who said that he had done everything possible to stop Ebuka from living a life of crime is pointing fingers at the prison authorities in Umuahia, alleging that they aided Ebuka to escape. He said that if the prison authorities had no hand in his escape, they would have done everything within their powers to apprehend him over the past 17 days he has been at large. Given their full knowledge of Ebuka’s history as a very dangerous criminal, he argued that they should have taken precautions in handling him, even when he claimed to be sick.
His words: “I believe strongly that somebody among the prison officials is aware of what really transpired before Ebuka escaped from custody at the hospital, if they don’t get to the root of the matter, I might be forced to take a legal step against the Nigeria Prisons Service.
“As I talk to you now, Ebuka is in the village, celebrating and daring anyone to come after him, yet the prison officials said that they are looking for him. When he escaped from them, the first thing they did was to send some of their officers to come and warn me to beware that he has escaped because they know how dangerous he is; yet, since December 8, when he escaped from prison, they say that they are looking for him.
They are not doing so, because people sight him both in the village and in Umuahia from time to time. It is sad that our prison system can allow such a dreaded criminal to escape and they are not doing anything about it.”
Controller of Prisons, Abia State, Ayoka Sylvester, who spoke to Sunday Sun agreed that Ebuka’s alleged presence in the community had created insecurity and that people are now afraid of moving freely.
He explained: “If he is actually in the village, it means that he has created insecurity and people are now afraid of moving freely; so if they call us and tell us where he is, we will go there and get hold of him and bring him back here. Security at this point is no longer for prison officials, it is now for everybody so that he can be taken out for the community to be at peace again while the law takes care of the offense he has committed.”
On how Ebuka escaped from custody, the Controller said that from his investigation, “the young man became sick about 3.30 am, and was rushed to the hospital, from where he escaped in the later part of that day. I learnt that after treatment, he said that he needed to take his bath and they allowed him to go and bathe and from there, he escaped.
They said that he was vomiting blood and they needed to take him to hospital for treatment. We will find out how close the officer to the bathroom, for the prisoner to have been able to run away from him.
“We have already sent out a search party and we are hopeful that we will get him. We shall go to anywhere in the country to make sure that we get him. We even go to the village where his relations are to look for him, and we are sure that wherever he is, we will get him.
“If we have information of where he is now, we will go and pick him. We cannot do anything without information. We will just go there, lay ambush and pick him. We are presently combing for him. If he is caught now, it is another charge, that he escaped from lawful custody and the judiciary knows what to do.
He can attract another sentence, and the number of days he was away will be removed from his sentence, and he will continue from where he stopped. He must serve that number in addition to whatever sentence that will be given to him for escaping from custody. If there is anything linking any a prison official to his escape, then you will know that the official is in trouble. It is a big offence for a prison official to connive with a convict to escape,” he said.
Chibueze who described Ebuka as the black sheep of the family, said that he has been a threat to the family for about 10 to 15 years and had been in and out of one prison or the other, serving various jail sentences.
“Two years ago, he was released from Owerri Prison after serving seven years for robbery he committed. He was caught, tried and sentenced to jail by a court in Owerri. Because I was not really aware of what his crime was, when he completed his sentence at Owerri, I stepped forward to get him released.
“Then I asked him what he wanted to do, believing that the prison experience must have reformed him or taught him a lesson that life of crime is not good. He said that he wanted to go back to school to continue from where he stopped before he went to jail.
I enrolled him into a secondary school in the community, but I was wrong because shortly after he enrolled, he resumed his criminal life. He started by robbing fellow students of their phones, text books, bags, money and even school uniforms just to make money. It was not long that he formed a gang in the school and the school authorities expelled him.
“Some of the recent crimes that sent him to jail happened in November last year, when he poured fuel on my twin brother and attempted to set him ablaze, but fortunately, the knockout banger he threw at him missed its target. Then he went further to burn his car, but the fire was put off by people.
“On December 25, 2016, he woke up and poured fuel on the family house in the village and threw knock-out on it to burn it down, but with the intervention of community members, the fire was put off, after it had done serious damage to the house. I came home to try and renovate the house, and he is doing everything to frustrate my efforts.
“Then, just last month, he came with fuel, to burn down our family house at Imo lane, Umuahia, and the police arrested him and took him to court, where he was tried and sentenced to a 10-year prison term after he was found guilty of all the charges brought against him.
“As I speak he has vandalized the house in the village and sold off every property which include the burglary proof, the air conditioners, the electronics, seats, tables, cooking utensils and other things that can fetch him money. Yet the Umuahia prison authorities are claiming to be looking for him.”