NCS Partners UNODC, UNAIDS, EU to Prevent COVID-19 Spread in Custodial Centres

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Bennett Oghifo

The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) has partnered with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UNAIDS and the European Union to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the 244 custodial centres across the nation.

According to a statement, yesterday, by Sylvester Tunde Atere, Outreach and Communications officer, UNODC Nigeria Country Office, Abuja, they provided the custodial centres basic protective and preventive equipment and supplies, including gloves, face masks, sanitizer, dispensers as well as infrared thermometers, which were handed over to the Comptroller General, Ja’afaru Ahmed, yesterday.

The items were procured with the support of the European Union through the (‘Response to drugs and related organised crime in Nigeria’ Project and in collaboration with other UN agencies, including UNICEF and UNAIDS, the statement said.
The UNODC had, during the lockdown, supported the National Correctional Service with materials to inform inmates and staff on how to stay safe.

“While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in the 244 custodial centres in Nigeria, reports from across the globe show that once the virus has gained access to prisons it is extremely hard to control its further spread.

“Prison overcrowding and the poorer health profile of inmates make people in prisons significantly more susceptible to contract the virus and to suffer severe symptoms if infected. Stringent preventative action is thus critical,” the statement said.

Receiving the equipment on behalf of the Nigerian Correctional Service, the Comptroller General, Ja’afaru Ahmed, expressed “appreciation to the UNODC and the EU for the assistance they have been rendering to the Service”, pledging that the “items would be judicially used.”

The statement said as the pandemic evolves, UNODC and the leadership of the Nigerian Correctional Service would continue to spare no effort to safeguard the health of the people living and working in custodial centres and other detention settings in the country.