Personnel of the Oyo State Police Command, on Monday, stormed an illegal detention centre at a mosque in the Ojoo area of Ibadan, and rescued 259 persons being held hostage there.
The victims were made up of 19 males, 34 females, 11 children, and 23 sick persons.
It was gathered that the victims had been in chains for between two and 10 years.
The police arrested nine suspects during the raid, including the owner of the centre.
PUNCH Metro findings showed that many such centres had been in existence in the city for several years, with clerics using them as corrective homes for recalcitrant persons.
The state Commissioner of Police, Shina Olukolu, who led the police team to the centre, said a 17-year-old escapee from a holding facility in another part of Ibadan hinted the command about the existence of the centre.
The commissioner stated that the escapee mentioned the Oloore mosque in Ojoo as another facility used for holding the victims against their will.
According to him, on arrival at the mosque, the victims recounted their harrowing experience, stating that some of them had been held hostage for up to 10 years.
Olukolu said, “The young man said the victims were being maltreated and were poorly fed; being treated like slaves and engaged in forced labour; and oftentimes, their deaths were not reported to anybody.
“On the basis of that information, the police decided to check out the centre. By the time we got to Owode, Apata, the facility had been evacuated. 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 was 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 and women were 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. We are not happy about the situation.
“So, we got across to the state government and the state government officials are around. They are here with a view to ensuring that some of these young people, who are kept against their will, are liberated and allowed to be in a position where they can talk and take care of themselves.
“Definitely, this area will be secured and the police will be able to do further investigation.
Anyone, who is found culpable, will definitely be arrested, investigated and prosecuted diligently to serve as a warning to others, who may want to operate such houses that serve as illegal detention centres.”