The federal government hinted yesterday that a total of 3,789 inmates
have been released from the Nigeria Correctional Service Centres
across the country since the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country to
curb the spread of the virus among inmates.
This is even as president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN),
Rev Samson Ayokunle, has called on all state governments that are yet
to reopen churches under their watch to do so now.
The Attorney-general of the Federation and minister of Justice who
announced this at a press conference in Abuja yesterday to celebrate
the achievements of the Presidential Committee on Correctional Service
Reform and Decongestion since it was inaugurated in October 2017
said the measure was taken to reduce risk of inmates contracting the
According to the AGF, the committee, since its inauguration, has
visited and appraised about 39 correctional centres in 18 states and
has released a total of 7,813 inmates.
He said it was pertinent to note the inadequacy of Nigeria’s
correctional facilities, which are currently operating at more than
150 per cent of their capacity.
He added that there is an ongoing construction of 3000-capacity
maximum security custodial centres in Karshi, Abuja and in Janguza,
The AGF said, ”Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed its own
peculiar challenges in light of the worrisome and dilapidated state of
our correctional centres nationwide. Without belabouring the facts, it
is pertinent to note the inadequacy of our correctional facilities,
which are currently operating at more than 150 per cent of their
”As part of measures to decongest the custodial centres nationwide in
the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the dangers posed to the
centres, the AGF’s office, the Ministry of Interior in collaboration
with Presidential Committee on Correctional Service and Decongestion,
the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy and State
Executives and Other relevant stakeholders, were galvanised to develop
measures to overcome the challenges.
”The initiatives we adopted have been able to so far led to the
release of about 3,789 inmates while simultaneously reducing the
instances of unnecessary test, and we intend to sustain this
The chairman of the committee and Chief Judge of the High Court of the
Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello, said during the visits to the correctional centres nationwide, “the committee carried out inspection exercises where a number of facilities were discovered to be in dire need of urgent rehabilitation and we made recommendations
as a matter of urgency to the relevant authorities for the renovation/construction of these facilities.
Meanwhile, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP in Abuja
yesterday, CAN president, Ayokunle, stressed that the continued
lockdown order on the places of worship is no longer acceptable and
reasonably justified. He said despite the directive given by the
Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 with regards to the re-opening of
places of worship centres nationwide, some states like Lagos and Ogun
are yet to allow worship places, especially churches, to be reopened.
‘’What sin have the places of worship committed?’’ he asked.
Ayokunle said with the sudden emergence of the coronavirus pandemic,
the leadership of the CAN at all levels, agreed with the government on
the need to close down the places of worship, economy, schools and
every other facet of life.
The statement reads in part: ‘’With the reopening of the economy,
especially the markets (both organised and the unorganised markets)
along with the plan to reopen airports and schools, the closure of
churches anywhere in the country is no longer tenable and acceptable.
‘’In what way are the opened and roadside markets more organised than
the church which warranted their opening? Is it not our members in the
places of worship that do go to markets and other sectors opened? Why
are they allowed to go to markets and disallowed from going to places
of worship? Is it because the marketers cannot contract the virus in
the markets and airports?
‘’It is our opinion that while the government and other relevant
stakeholders are working hard to get a cure for the COVID-19 pandemic,
the Church too has a role to play by seeking for divine solutions as
He, however, appealed to Lagos, Ogun and other state governments where
churches are still under lockdown to relax it.
“As much as we believe that COVID-19 deserves attention, we believe
that the affected state governments would not turn a deaf ear to our
request but allow worship centres to be opened.’’
In a related development, Brazil’s President, Bolsonaro, has tested
positive for coronavirus the President, Jair Bolsonaro says he has
tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying its severity.
He confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in
“I’m well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t
due to medical recommendations,” Bolsonaro said.
The president has often appeared in public to shake hands with
supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has
said his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus, and
it would be nothing more than a “little flu” were he to contract it.
Bolsonaro tested negative three times in March after meeting with US
President Donald Trump in Florida. Multiple members of his delegation
to the US were later reported to be infected with the virus.
Brazil has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over
65,000 related deaths, the second-highest number of confirmed cases
in the world, according to data as compiled by Johns Hopkins
C’River’s Response To COVID-19 Innovative, Imaginative – FG
Meanwhile the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has described as
excellent, the various measures adopted by Cross River State against
the pandemic, including a drive through test centre established by
Governor Ben Ayade for the testing of samples for COVID-19.
The team was in the state on Monday to assess its readiness for the
management of the phase two of the pandemic.
Speaking immediately after inspecting the testing center, a drive
through testing facility as well as the state garment factory where
they witnessed the production of Personal Protective Equipment
including face shields, leader of the PTF team, Dr Faisal Shuaib,
lauded Governor Ayade for what he dubbed his creative imagination.
His words: “I think it’s excellent. I think it is incredible the level
of innovation, creative imagination seen in Cross River since the team
arrived here earlier today (Monday) and we are really impressed with
what is going on in Cross River State and we believe that the sample
collection centre will be a boost to the COVID-19 outfit response that
the Cross River State government has elaborated in the last few weeks
and I think it is really impressive.”
Elaborating on the mission of the team to the state, Dr Shaibu who is
also the executive director and chief executive officer of the
National Primary Healthcare Department Agency, said, “One of the
reasons we are here today as the PTF and the Federal Ministry of
Health is to see what Cross River State has done so far as a second
phase of interactions with Cross River State.”
On assessment of the face masks and face shields produced by the
state’s garment factory, Shuaibu stated: “We were earlier at the
garment factory where we have seen face masks and face shields and
overalls being produced. Our partners, NAFDAC, the Standard
Organisation of Nigeria were really impressed with what is going on
“So we made a commitment to dig deep and see how we can collaborate
with the government of Cross River to make sure that all of the work
that is going on there will easily meet global standards. We have
already assessed physically and our representatives from these two
organisations are happy with what they have seen.”
Speaking further, he said, “We just need some further testing to make
sure that we can now scale up and make sure that Nigerians are able to
benefit from the manufacturing that we are already seeing in Cross
River State. It is an opportunity to encourage other governors to be
Speaking on the partnership with the state government, the National
Healthcare Development Agency’s CEO said: “It’s really incredible what
we have seen in the last few hours and the federal government will
continue to partner with the Cross River State government so that other governors can be encouraged by what is going on.”
Responding, Governor Ayade thanked Shuaibu for his understanding of
the issues around the state’s handling of COVID-19.
“Let me specially commend Dr FShuaibu for his personal intelligence
and understanding of the local situation. Let me thank the team and I
want to thank the federal ministry of health for deeming it fit to
send a team to come and look at what Cross River has done.”
He said the state is encouraged by the level of support coming from
the federal government. “That is the incentive that Nigerians want to
see and that is the impetus that will encourage other governors to go