No fewer than 259 persons have been evacuated from an illegal detention facility discovered by police in Oyo State on Monday.
Five suspects believed to be operators of the facility at the Oloore Central Mosque in the Ojoo area of Ibadan, the state capital, have been arrested.
Commissioner of Police Shina Olukola, who led the operation, said the suspects were rumoured to have spiritual powers to cure anti-social behaviour in people, especially youngsters.
The CP told reporters that he got a hint from a 17-year-old boy who claimed to have escaped from one of the facilities located at Apata area of the state, but which hadbeen evacuated before the police team got there.
He added that the informant also told the police of the existence of another facility located at the Ojoo area, where hundreds of victims were rescued late Monday evening.
The rescue operation was witnessed by the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Inclusion, Mrs Faosat Sanni who represented the state government.
Olukolu said, “It is the responsibility of the Nigeria Police Force to protect life and property. This morning, November 4, (yesterday), I received a call via a young man, who informed one of my divisional police officers that there is an illegal detention facility somewhere at Owode, Apata in Ibadan, being run by someone, who claimed to have the powers to change the anti-social behaviours of youngsters and others.
“However, the young man said they were being maltreated, they were not being well-fed, they were being treated like slaves and they were engaged in forced labour, and sometimes their deaths were not reported to anybody.
“On the basis of that information, the police decided to check it out. We got to Owode, Apata. By the time we got there, they had evacuated that facility. But from the surroundings, we knew that there were people in that place earlier than the time we arrived.
“However, the young man informed the police that there is another detention facility and that is where we are now at Oloore, Ojoo area of Ibadan.
“Actually, when the police got here, we discovered that young men, young women are being kept in captivity in a dungeon-like situation. As a matter of fact, man’s inhumanity to man is being manifested in this environment. And we are not happy about the situation.
“So, we got across to the state government and state government officials are around. They are here with a view of ensuring that some of these young men that are kept against their will are liberated and allowed to be in a position where they can talk to themselvesand take care of themselves.”