By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
As Nigeria joins in the commemoration of World Day of Social Justice today, the National Association of Seadogs, NAS, Abuja Chapter has tasked the Federal Government to fully implement the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) Health Protection Regulations in the nation’s correctional facilities and custodial centres.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had on 26th January 2021 in the exercise of the power vested in him by Section 4 of the Quarantine Act, Cap Q2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2010 and all enabling powers in that behalf signed the piece of legislation into law.
In a letter to the Federal Government through the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, by the Abuja Chapter (Zuma Deck) which was signed by Kolawole Anderson Oseh and Viktor Ikiriko, Chapter President and Secretary respectively, NAS, also known as Pyrates Confraternity argued that the said “regulations clearly provide in Section 24 of Part 2 that the Management of Correctional Centres and Detention Centres, Remand homes, Holding Cells, Military Detention Centres, amongst other centres for care and custody of persons ‘shall ensure compliance with the provisions of these Regulations’.
The association in the letter said, “We have also stated our firm belief that with commitment as a people, we can achieve these for the inmates of these facilities and centres who are as well entitled to the benefits and protection of these Regulations just like every other Nigerian.
“Additionally, in the spirit of humanistic ideals and social justice, we shall be embarking on the payment of fines on behalf of some inmates within Abuja correctional facilities and its environs, especially female inmates who have been convicted of simple offences and misdemeanors come 20th February 2021 being the World Day of Social Justice.
“We specifically urge the governments at different levels in Nigeria to as a matter of urgency consider “social distancing in addition to other Covid-19 protocols for the inmates in Correctional Facilities, Remand Homes, Holding Cells, Military Detention Centres, amongst other centres for care and custody of persons in line with social justice and International Best Practice.”
It also told the government to consider the “release of certain inmates who have nearly completed their jail terms, or who qualify for other health or age considerations or even based on an administrative review of their cases; all in the interest of prison decongestion.
“The construction and set up of more correctional facilities and custodial centres, however they are called, in battling the Covid-19 challenges and complying with the said Presidential Regulations.”
NAS said it was also considering the involvement of civil society organizations in the creation of awareness and capacity building for the full implementation of these Regulations.
“Finally, while commending the rapid response of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and especially the presidential initiative in signing the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) Health Protection Regulations 2021, we are very expectant that the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the State governments shall heed this particular call for social justice in the manner stated above.”