By Angela Nkwocha
The Nigerian Correctional Service, NCoS has laid to rest the fear that some very important persons who tested positive to Coronavirus (COVID-19), are quarantined in prisons facilities. This is coming on the backdrop of the recommendation made by a member of the House of Representatives, who suggested that inmates of correctional centres across the country be set free, while prisons are to be converted to quarantine centres for patients who have tested positive to the COVID-19 virus.
In a chat with the AUTHORITY, the National PRO, NCoS, DCC Chucks Njoku, said no VIP person is currently quarantined in any of its facilities adding that the service is doing everything possible to ensure the safety of inmates.
“I appreciate your concern over the state of our inmates in our various custodian centres, we don’t have inmates that are foreigners or quarantined in our various custodian centres.”
He explained that the facility only harbours inmates who committed crimes in Nigeria went through the process of law, got detained sentenced by competent court and are currently awaiting trial in custodian centres.
Njoku said the custodian centres have taken various steps to curb the upsurge of COVID-19 by ensuring it observes the basic hygiene of hand washing and use of hand sanitizers for the inmates and their care givers, adding that currently visits are suspended and courts are not sitting.
“Since the first index case we have not had the privilege of receiving any foreigner in our detention all the inmates in our facilities have been screened. What we are containing right now is our staff members who are care givers to these inmates, they go through the processes of hand washing, hand sanitizing, temperature check and all other procedures aimed at ensuring our facilities are COVID free,” he said.
Collaborating his report, the PRO FCT Command, Chukwuedo Humphrey, said it has enough Medical personnel grounded in respiratory issues to aid in the fight to curb the COVID-19 in all its facilities, stressing that the Controller General has also given directive to stop allowing outsiders visit the inmates until the scourge is over.
“For now we are not allowing visitors come visit the inmates. The courts are not sitting, judges have been mandated to go on recess, we are not expecting anyone who has recent travel history to be sent to our facility, the custodian centres are much secured and medically we are on top of our game.
“We have enough drugs the CGP sends in drugs monthly across all prison formations and Correctional officers are not going on any vacation to enable us take care of the inmates. We are all essential officers, security has been heightened in all our formations. We keep to the hygiene of hand washing, face masks and testing kits, we check their temperatures on daily basis; we also check the temperature of staff coming in on daily basis.
“Our medical team have sensitized our inmates on this, and have also availed them with the basic precautions, they understand why we are restricting visitors to come see them that it is for their own good, they can call their loved ones through our welfare channels with a correctional officer’s hearing range, we are working with our inmates in line with government to ensure that the correctional centres are safe.”
Recall that the Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola has called for decongestion of all the Correctional Centres in the country as a measure to ensure that the Coronavirus disease, does not find its way into any of the Centres.
Aregbesola called on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, States Chief Judges, the Governors and other stakeholders in the Justice Sector to immediately identify measures to be taken for quick decongestion of the custodial centres across the country as a way of preventing the spread of the virus at the Centres. He called for an urgent need to find a way of trying the cases of the Awaiting Trial Persons in the country to overcome the challenge of space in order to reduce the possibility of the virus getting into the facilities.