Security expert calls for de-congestion of custodial centres to stave off COVID-19

The Former National Public Relations Officer (NPRO) Mr Francis Enobore

A security expert and former spokesman of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Mr Francis Enobore has called for urgent decongestion of custodial centres to stave off COVID-19.

He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja that the decongestion had become necessary because the virus thrives in poorly ventilated, crowded and unhygienic environments.

Enobore, who retired as Controller of Corrections at the NCOs, stressed that imminent outbreaks of new variants of the virus that mutate speedily also made prison decongestion expedient.

He noted, however, that the new strains of the virus that had taken their toll in parts of Asia, Europe and America, had not led to increased incidence in Nigeria.

“If we interpret cautionary messages from experts about new strains of the virus, the overcrowding phenomenon and obsolete colonial inheritance still standing as inmates’ cells in some locations would become frightening.

“It is praiseworthy though that the management of the NCoS had successfully weathered health storms overtime even when more developed societies capitulated,’’ he said.

Enobore stressed that strategies must be put in place to check overcrowding of inmates’ cells if the NCoS must maintain its track record of addressing the challenges of communicable diseases.

“It is important to integrate measures and efforts at reducing inmates’ population in custodial centres where adequate ventilation is significantly compromised.

“I believe a more sustainable approach to prevent overcrowding in custodial centres is to promote systems that guarantee speedy disposition of cases in courts,’’ he told NAN.

He said managers of custodial centres should ensure that public health protocols enunciated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control were ingrained in staff and in inmates preparatory to the unknown.

“While acknowledging the NCoS past successes, it is important that the managers do not drop their guards and veer too far away from the winning ways,’’ Enobore said. (NAN)