By Haruna MOHAMMED from Bauchi
A HUMAN rights group, Prison Inmate Development Initiative (PIDI-Nigeria) in partnership with Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR), has blamed the Nigerian Police for the current increase in positive cases of COVID-19 in Bauchi state.
A press statement issued to journalists by the rights organizations on Thursday alleged that the ten reported cases among inmates in Bauchi were connected with “detaining suspects beyond the capacity of their cells.”
“The about ten persons with COVID-19 were brought to the correctional facility already infected in the police cell where they were locked up in an overcrowded cell for a very long time”, the right groups alleged.
The press statement further alleged that the police have been detaining suspects beyond prison capacity in their various cells across the country.
The press release signed and shared to journalists in Bauchi by the Executive Director of Prison Inmate Development Initiative (PIDI-Nigeria), Mbami Iliya Sabka said investigations done by the organisation revealed that the positive cases recorded among some inmates were brought by the police to the correctional centers and not those who were already serving jail terms in the facility.
The Organization said the Bauchi Correctional Centre has confirmed to its officials that the newly confirmed cases were new inmates from the police cells.
The human rights organisations noted that “the correctional center guideline stipulates that if a court sentenced a person to the correction center, he or she must be screened of COVID 19 before being allowed to join other inmates if found negative.”
Mbami further noted that the action of the police if not checked, will further derail the government’s effort in curtailing the spread of the virus.
“The worrisome and a gross violation of human rights was the situation where our team observed that no name of the suspects in their cell was written in the crime board as stipulated by the law of the land, an indication that the police may have detained over 50 suspects in their cell against the Covidd-19 protocol,” the organisation alleged.
When contacted for comments, the Police Public Relations Officer, Bauchi State Police Command, DSP Ahmed Mohammed Wakil said “I don’t respond to questions on phone, come to the office.”
According to the World Prison Brief 2018, no fewer than 71,522 inmates are held in Nigerian prisons.