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COVID-19: right group urges police to decongest cells nationwide

The policy of rejecting new inmates into the Correctional centres Nationwide  to avoid infection of the old  inmates has been condemned by the human rights defenders of Nigeria(HURIDE)

Human Rights, Liberty Access and Peace Defenders' Foundation (HURIDE), which decried this position,  said this has swelled the already congested Police cells all over the country .

The chairman, Board of Trustees ( BoT), HURIDE, Dede Uzor A  Uzor and it's Pubcity Secretary Elder Charles Ebilite in  a statement weekend in Onitsha, said the policy negates the fight to reduce the spread of Covid-19 among Nigeria citizens.

He said the Police facilities even  before Covid-19 was already congested  with suspects, now that every suspect is kept in Police cells even the ones already arraigned in Court, it is better imagined how the Police facilities all over the country would look like?

He said the situation  reports they gathered from Police cells all over the country indicated that virtually all the cells in the country are filled beyond their capacities, thus posing serious danger of the suspects contacting the disease.

The group argued that Correctional Centres are more equipped to take these suspects both in manpower and facilities, suggesting that  before they accept,  test should  be  conducted on them.

Those who tested positive should be quarantined within  the Centre both those who are not should be allowed.

Against this  backdrop, the group called on the Federal Government and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to provide at least one Correctional Centre in each State with testing kits,an  isolation centre to take care of new inmates.

"The practice of turning suspects back to Police cell should be discontinued" they said .

The Presidemt had  in his address to the nation directed that the judiciary should release those inmates with minor offence as a way of decogesting Correctional Centres.

Some State Chief Judges had since carried this directive, while some especially in the South East States have observed it in breach.

The group therefore called on the Chief Judges of the 36 State and Abuja, who have not carried out the exercise to reduce Correctional Centres in the States to do that.

For those who have done the exercise, HURIDE lauded them but appealed that the exercise  should be a continous one  until the pandemic is wiped out.

The group also called the Inspector General of Police (IG), to direct the State Commissioners of Police to direct the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in their respective States to grant bails to suspects with minor cases to decongest Police cells this time around.

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