Inmates protest in Kaduna over COVID-19
• Ruckus under control, say police, jailors
• IMN alleges threat to El-Zakzaky, wife’s safety
• UNODC tasks govt on protection of prisoners
Inmates doing time at the Kaduna Correctional Centre embarked on violent protest yesterday, demanding their release as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
The prisoners reportedly attempted to overpower the jailors, but for the prompt deployment of armed policemen who reinforced the armed prison officers and shot sporadically to prevent jailbreak.
Besides, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, ASP Mohammed Jalige, told The Guardian on telephone that the situation was put under control and that none of the inmates escaped.
Jalige said: “Actually, I was there myself. I spoke with the Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) in charge of the zone who is in Kaduna. He said it was only an internal problem between the staff and the inmates, and that it had been managed and normalcy restored. There were no casualties from both sides.”
Also, the Controller of the correctional centre, Alhaji Mohammed Babangida, corroborated him that the situation had been brought under control.
According to him, there is no need for panic because the workers are working tirelessly to address the issues that caused the protest.
Meanwhile, members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) have alleged fresh threat to the safety of its leader, Shiekh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, after the turmoil in his cell in Kaduna.
President of IMN Media Forum, Ibrahim Musa, disclosed yesterday that “credible reports emanating from the Kaduna Correctional Centre, where the government is wrongly detaining El-Zakzaky and his wife have reached IMN of a turmoil leading to the opening of fire and blocking of all access roads to the centre.”
IMN said it would hold the Federal Government responsible for any harm to the couple. “It is the responsibility of government to protect all inmates in such homes, especially with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world.”
In a related development, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has tasked state and federal governments on protection of inmates from COVD-19.
In a message entitled, ‘Leaving No One Behind: Protecting People in Prions From COVID-19’, the National Project Officer, Outreach and Communications, UNODC Nigeria Country Office, Sylvester Atere, urged government to intensify efforts at containing further spread of the disease.
“They should also take into consideration the vulnerable segment of the society, particularly prison inmates across the country,” the UN added.
Atere was worried that beyond congestion, prison population had a weaker health profile, making them particularly vulnerable to communicable diseases such as COVID-19.
The statement read: “As governments at federal and state levels are ramping up their capacities to prevent further spread of the virus, provide for testing and contact tracing, expanding isolation and treatment facilities as well attempt at mitigating the impact of its measures on the indigenous population and the economy, there are a number of segments of the society that are particularly vulnerable but are not yet at the centre of attention. Such groups include people in detention.
“While controlling access might be easier in such environments, once the virus has reached a prison, as it has happened already in several other countries, preventing its further spread is significantly harder.”
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