the Legal Defence Assistance Project (LEDAP) has called on the attorneys general and commissioners for justice in all the states of the federation to urgently stop the indiscriminate arrests and detention of citizens.
They rather urged them to ensure that they decongest custody centres to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We wish to draw your attention to the vulnerable situation of places of detention including Correctional Services centers, police stations, and detention cells of environment sanitation agency, Covid-19 Task Force, civil defence corps, vigilante services, etc. These places are reportedly filled with criminal suspects and are grossly over congested.
“Many over-zealous law enforcement officials have relied on the Covid-19 lockdown to harass citizens, extort money from them, indiscriminately arrest and detain suspects and charge money for their bail. It is commonplace that securing bail in police and other agencies cost a lot of bribery money, sometime between N10, 000 and N50, 000 for simple offences and much more for felonies, yet the police authorities continue to tell Nigerians that bail is free,” the group said in a letter signed by its national coordinator, Mr. Chino Obiagwu (SAN) and programme director, Pamela Okoroigwe.
Consequently, the group urged the chief law officers to issue further directives or regulations on managing and handling criminal matters during Covid-19 lockdown in order to ensure that no arrested person is unduly kept in detention, and where such detention occurs, that bail is granted free of charge as soon as any surety whatsoever is presented.
It said: “That you direct that no one should be arrested and detained on account of violating the lockdown. Most Nigerians live on daily earnings, and therefore the lockdown regulations and their enforcement must be carried out with a human face, recognizing the constitutional rights of citizens.
“Liaise with the Chief Judge of your State to call out all the Magistrates in the State to perform their statutory functions under section 34 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.”