The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has called for the immediate decongestion of all the correctional centres in the country.
In a statement on Thursday by the Director of Press and Public Relations at the ministry, Mohammed Manga, Aregbesola explained that this was to ensure that coronavirus (COVID-19) does not find its way into any of the centres.
The minister made the call during an emergency meeting held at his office in Abuja on how to manage the Custodial Centres of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stated that the meeting was convened in response to the outcome of the Presidential Task Force meeting on COVID-19, noting that the safety of inmates, the staff of the Nigeria Correctional Service and all Nigerians was of great concern to the Federal Government.
The Minister stressed that Nigeria was in an extraordinary situation that needed all hands to be on deck to ensure that the pandemic does not go into any of the custodian centres.
He, therefore, called on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, States Chief Judges, 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.
According to Aregbesola, the number of those in the Centres calls for a quick response, particularly in the present situation which exposes them to infection.
He added that the situation was further compounded by the huge number of Awaiting Trial Persons (ATPs) which accounted for over 70 per cent of inmates’ population in the nation’s holding facilities.
The governor stressed the need to quickly find a way of trying the cases of the ATPs in the country to overcome the challenge of space in order to reduce the possibility of the virus getting into the facilities.