We Won’t Allow Coronavirus Spread Into Prisons – Aregbesola

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has assured that the ministry is doing everything necessary to see to it that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) does not spread into Nigerian prisons.

He also explained the reason for the disruption at the Kaduna State Prison on Tuesday, assuring that it was effectively managed and that it would not repeat itself in the system.

The noted that while making efforts to keep people in detention safe from the disease, government was also being careful not to resort to a measure that might put the larger society in danger, specifically speaking about the suggestion being made that the custodial centres be decongested.

“The congested custodial facilities are in some of our urban centres – not all urban centres though – they are in areas where you have a huge population of people and understandably those who have the cause to be detained are more than the facilities we have, particularly the awaiting-trial persons.

“I can assure you that all efforts, all actions required to ensure that there’s no occurrence or spread of COVID-19 in any of those custodial centres, are being made.

“I spoke about Kaduna yesterday; there was a mild disturbance in Kaduna yesterday and it was put under control. It happened because the inmates in the condemned section were anxious to know the outcome of our efforts to decongest some of the centres and they became agitated.

“It was put down without any casualty and I want to believe that, having been handled, information has gone round the commands to appraise the inmates of the efforts we are making, to see that the approval given by the president is effected very soon.

“I must add that what we are trying to do cannot be done by us as the Federal Government alone. More than 80% of the inmates in the awaiting trial group are from the states; they are state offenders.

“We are, therefore, working with the state governments, along with our own system, to break down the profile basis of incarceration in terms of detention and several other factors to ensure that if at all people will be released, they will be released without jeopardising the security of the nation. We are, therefore, careful and sensitive on the steps we take, even with the threats of COVID-19.

“I must add this because it is important, the NJC has been of tremendous help. By the middle of last week, NJC issued a directive to all courts in Nigeria to suspend trials that could lead to any detention in the custodial service.

“I must equally commend the directive from the IGP to all police formations in the country to release offenders or suspects detained on minor offences and that will go a long way in ensuring social distancing and reduction of detainees in those centres so as to ensure that occurrence of COVID-19 infection and the spread will be reduced, if not eliminated.”

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while addressing some questions raised by journalists, said the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had directed all cable television service providers to leave all local channels as free service to their subscribers, even when subscriptions had yet to be renewed during this period. He said this was meant to make the public adequately informed.

He also said he had been informed, after consultations with coordinators of bankers services, that all banks had been permitted to open for services across the country while the restrictions last.

On the operations of construction companies, he said the Minister of Works and Housing had approved the suspension of all ongoing construction works across the country till April 20th, explaining that the suspension was meant to allow for social distancing.


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