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FG reopens prisons, releases guidelines on inmate admission

By Idowu Abdullahi,

Following the gradual reopening of the country’s economy, the Federal Government has given approval for the reopening of custodial centers nationwide with strict safety guidelines that must be adhered to.

It explained that the need to enhance access to justice and also facilitate the administration of criminal justice in the country necessitated the reopening of the custodial centers nationwide.

The apex government which announced this through the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) said the reopening of custodial centers nationwide meant that all centers can begin to admit all categories of inmates.

The Controller General of Corrections, Ja’afaru Ahmed, in a statement released to newsmen conveying the directive of the federal government, urged all state controllers and officers-in-charge of custodial centers to strictly mandate all officers to adhere strictly to the coronavirus prevention guidelines.

He listed the guidelines to include the resumption of the admission of all categories of inmates into designated custodial centers; and that only designated custodial centers with isolation units are to admit inmates; while the state controllers are to avail the Judges in their various states the list of the designated custodial centers and that all newly admitted inmates are to be isolated for the mandatory period of 14 days.

Others, Ahmed said, include compulsory coronavirus screening for all inmates at the isolation units; followed by a confirmatory test after the 14 days for all the inmates at the isolation units, while regular fumigation of the custodial centers should be carried out at agreed intervals.

Furthermore, Ahmed added that staff members of every facility must undergo the prerequisite training before being deployed to isolation centers of custodial centers nationwide.

“The staff members must have undergone fundamental/ basic training before being deployed to isolation unit and only legal counsels are allowed a visit to the inmates, all procedures and protocols of COVID-19 screening are to be strictly observed,” the statement read in part.

The Controller General of Correction, however, enjoined state Controllers to liaise with the Judiciary and other stakeholders in criminal justice administration to ensure the smooth take-off of the guidelines aimed at fighting the dreaded pandemic in the nation’s custodial centers.

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