The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) has reopened some custodial centres to admit all categories of inmates.
Recall that the NCoS had, in response to the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic, shut custodial centres, to avert an outbreak of the virus.
Controller-General of Corrections, Ja’afaru Ahmed, who gave new guidelines for reopening of the centres, maintained that adherence to the guidelines was necessary to enhance access to justice and also facilitate the administration of criminal Justice in the country.
He added that only custodial centres with isolation facilities would be opened as new inmates would be subjected to 14 days of isolation.
Ahmed also revealed that inmates would be tested after the mandatory isolation period to confirm their Coronavirus status.
While imploring State Controllers to avail judges in their states the list of approved custodial centres, the NCoS boss stated that as part of preventive measures, the centres will be fumigated at regular intervals.
Speaking via a statement issued by the NCoS spokesperson, Austin Njoku, on Wednesday, Ahmed said, “ The guidelines for the reopening of the custodial centres which all State Controllers and Officers In-Charge are directed to adhere strictly to are: resumption of the admission of all categories of inmates into designated custodial centres;
“Only designated custodial centres with isolation units are to admit inmates; The State Controllers are to avail the Judges in their various states the list of the designated custodial centres.
“All newly admitted inmates are to be isolated for the mandatory period of 14 days.
“COVID-19 screening should be conducted on all inmates at the isolation units. A confirmatory test after the 14 days should be conducted on all the inmates at the isolation units, and regular fumigation of the custodial centres should be carried out at agreed intervals. ”
The statement further said that Staff members had undergone fundamental training needed to man the isolation centres.
Ahmed, however, warned that only legal counsels would be allowed visit to inmates, saying, “ all procedures and protocols of COVID-19 screening are to be strictly observed. ”
He implored State Controllers to liaise with the Judiciary and other stakeholders in criminal justice administration to ensure the smooth take off of the guidelines and fight against COVID-19 in custodial centres.