A cell designed for ten inmates at Gabasawa divisional police station in Kaduna state is now housing 300 — triggering COVID-19 fears among suspects and police officers.
Some of the suspects were arrested over allegations of rape and kidnapping, among others.
TheCable learnt that some of the suspects were transferred from the criminal investigation department (CID), while others were brought in from the court as the correctional centers are not accepting inmates over COVID-19 fears.
Some of the suspects are said to be sick and in need of medical attention.
A police officer at Gabasawa division complained the rise in number of suspects, saying disinfectants are sometimes used to avoid contracting infections.
“We are worried about the large number of suspects and fear of being infected by Coronavirus as they keep bringing suspect to here for detention,” he said.
“I don’t know how many people are being detained, but they are many. May be over 300 of them. They brought them from the courts, others are brought from the CID. Sometimes we have to use disinfectants in the cell.”
Guidelines issued to halt the spread of the virus had exempted lawyers from the list of essential service provider during lockdown.
The pandemic had also resulted in reduced court hearings, leading to the use of few high and magistrate courts.
However, it was gathered that magistrate courts have no jurisdiction over criminal cases and therefore cannot grant bail in such cases, thereby leading to congestion of suspects.
Mohammed Jalige, spokesman of the Kaduna state police command, said the congestion at the Gabasawa police station was worrisome.
Jalinge said most of the suspects are in custody of the State CID, adding that the suspects cannot be granted bail.
He said the command has been deliberating on the issue citing the non-acceptance of inmates as the problem.
The spokesman said the leadership of the command will meet with the governor to find a solution to the congestion.
“We have been deliberating on that issue at the command level. 75 percent of the cases are being remanded by the chief magistrate and the high court,” he said.
“They are remanded in police custody because the correctional centre in Kaduna no longer accepts inmates. That is the problem we are having.
“But today (Friday), there is going to be a security meeting with the governor and the police commissioner is going to be in attendance.
“By the grace of God, the issue would be addressed. We are not happy about the large number of suspects at Gabasawa.”