Amnesty International has warned about the potential spread of Covid-19 in the country’s overcrowded prisons and detention centres. It highlights the case of Kaduna Prison which although having a capacity of only 473 inmates, as of early April had “1,480 prisoners; while Enugu Maximum Security Prison with capacity for 638, now has 2,077 prisoners.”
In Kaduna Prison, two uprisings among inmates on 31 March and 3 April led to the death of 9 prisoners, leaving many injured. Panic related to the pandemic and sanitary conditions led to an escape attempt in Aba prison on 16 May, where one inmate was killed.
On 22 April, Nigeria’s President Buhari urged the chief judge to release prison inmates awaiting trial for more than six years, as well as elderly prisoners and those who are terminally ill. He stated that “42 percent of Nigeria’s 74,000 or so prisoners were awaiting trial.” On 9 April, the government announced the upcoming release of 2,670 prisoners during the pandemic and on 15 May, the chief justice called for the speed up of the decongestion of custodial centres. However, immigration arrests are still being conducted during the pandemic, according to reports from 1 May.
- BBC News, “Coronavirus: Security Forces Kill More Nigerians Than Covid-19,” 16 April 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-52317196
- IOM, “Nigeria: IOM Builds Quarantine Shelters as Conflict-Affected Borno State Records First COVID-19 Cases,” 24 April 2020, https://www.iom.int/news/nigeria-iom-builds-quarantine-shelters-conflict-affected-borno-state-records-first-covid-19
- Amnesty International, “Nigeria: Authorities Must Uphold Human Rights In Fight To Curb COVID-19,” 1 April 2020, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/04/nigeria-covid-19/
- UNHCR, “Nigeria Violence Sees 23,000 Refugees Flee Into Niger In One Month,” 12 May 2020, https://www.unhcr.ca/news/nigeria-violence-sees-23000-refugees-flee-niger-one-month/
- AfricaNews, “Coronavirus : le Nigeria va libérer 2.670 détenus pour désengorger les prisons,” 9 April 2020, https://fr.africanews.com/2020/04/09/coronavirus-le-nigeria-va-liberer-2670-detenus-pour-desengorger-les-prisons//
- Channels Television, “CJN Orders Speedy Trial Of Cases, Decongestion Of Custodial Centres,” 15 May 2020, https://www.channelstv.com/2020/05/15/cjn-orders-speedy-trial-of-cases-decongestion-of-custodial-centres/
- E. Ugbor, “One Dead, Many Injured As Inmates Attempt Prison Break In Aba,” Vanguard, 17 May 2020, https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/05/one-dead-many-injured-as-inmates-try-prison-break-in-aba/
- Sahara Reporters, “EXCLUSIVE: Eight Inmates Of Kaduna Prison Killed By Officials For Leading Protest, Authorities Cover Up Incident,” 3 April 2020, http://saharareporters.com/2020/04/03/exclusive-eight-inmates-kaduna-prison-killed-officials-leading-protest-authorities-cover
- R. Agboluaje, “Immigration Arrests Three Togolese At Iseyin, Frees One,” 1 May 2020, https://guardian.ng/news/immigration-arrests-three-togolese-at-iseyin-frees-one/
- Aljazeera, “Coronavirus: Buhari Asks Nigeria’s Chief Judge To Free Prisoners,” 22 April 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/coronavirus-buhari-asks-nigeria-chief-judge-free-prisoners-200422053224030.html
- A Quarantine Facility Constructio Site in Pulka where 56014 People Live in Camps, (IOM, “Nigeria: IOM Builds Quarantine Shelters as Conflict-Affected Borno State Records First COVID-19 Cases,” 24 April 2020, https://www.iom.int/news/nigeria-iom-builds-quarantine-shelters-conflict-affected-borno-state-records-first-covid-19)