The Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errant (CURE-Nigeria), an NGO, has said that prison inmates should have access to qualitative health care across the country.
The Executive Director of CURE-Nigeria, Mr Sylvester Uhaa, made this call at a news briefing held in Enugu on Thursday.
Uhaa said that prison inmates nationwide should be treated free, adding that denial of treatment due to lack of money, had heightened cases of ill-health and death among them.
“Access to health care in prisons across the country remains critically inadequate, resulting in the death of more than 900 inmates in 2016; 32 in one prison in Lagos State alone.
“We want to remind the Nigeria Prison Service (NPS) that giving people in prison access to health care is a right that is well protected in international law.
“We call on the Federal Government to take immediate and progressive steps to provide people in prison with the needed access to health care so as to prevent avoidable deaths.
“Specifically, we appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Minister of Health to order all public hospitals to treat prison inmates free,’’ he said.
He bemoaned the situation, whereby prison staff had to contribute money in order to take inmates to hospitals.
The director also implored State Governments where these prisons were located to assist the Federal Government in this direction.
Uhaa also called on the NPS to stop detaining mentally-ill persons in prison custody rather, they should be taken to psychiatric hospitals for adequate medical attention.
He said that in spite of the provisions of the Mandela Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners that mentally-ill persons should not be admitted into prison, Nigeria had continued to detain lunatics in prisons.
“These people are unfit to stand trial and, therefore, one wonders what they are doing in detention,’’ he said.
Uhaa urged the Federal Government to direct the NPS and other law enforcement agencies, holding lunatics in their cells to begin their transfer to health centres for treatment and rehabilitation without delay. (NAN)