• Monday, June 24, 2024
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No case of COVID-19 in Nigeria custodial centres despite fears -NCS

Ja’afaru Ahmed

Ja’afaru Ahmed, the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS), on Wednesday said there is no case of Covid-19 across all custodial centres in the country, despite the crowded state of the centres as well as wide fears and anticipations of it being worst hit.

Ahmed said that the feat is huge for Nigeria because no other country has achieved the record since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The comptroller General said this during the donation of COVID-19 materials by The Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) with the support of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) worth N25 million at the services Headquarters in Abuja.

Ahmed however informed that admissions have been restored in the various custodial centres and over 9,900 have been admitted.

He also informed that states are cooperating on the guidelines provided for reopening, but said only 8 states are yet to put the guidelines in place to begin admissions and are hesitant to take inmates.

“The guidelines are not difficult, any inmate for admission must carry out a COVID 19 test, then put on isolation for two weeks, after which another test is carried out, if negative,then he can be put in the general population of that custodial centre.

“But, where he tests negative, it is mandatory for the state Committe to take him to the isolation centres and that is why some states are hesitant to take inmates”, he said.

Items donated includes ; computers, Modern and mobile phones for virtual visitation; 50,000 pieces of face masks and 1,000 face shields for tye protection of inmates and correctional officers; 47 spraying cans for disinfection of custodial centres; pedal operated water tanks for handwashing; posters and flyers with covid-19 messages.

Ahmed assured that the items will be judiciously used to further consolidate on the gains that have already been achieved of not recording any covid-19 case.

Uju Agomoh, Executive Director, PRAWA, said the donated phones and computers will provide a virtual platform for inmates to interact with their families and lawyers.

Agomoh said the initiative will run as pilot in 17 correctional facilities across the country especially in facilities with high number of awaiting trial inmates such as Lagos, Abia, Rivers, Kano, Owerri and the FCT, to ameliorate the plight of inmates occasioned by the COVID-19 restrictions in the centres.

To cushion the burden of cost, the executive director said PRAWA will provide 6 months internet free connectivity to the correctional centres where the technology will be deployed.

She disclosed that the comptroller General of the service has promised that the service will take over the maintenance and payment for internet connectivity, after the 6 months.