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Lagos court sentences 730 COVID19 lockdown violators to community service

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No fewer than 730 persons were sentenced to community service by Lagos State Magistrates’ Court for COVID-19 lockdown offences, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

The Director of Community Service, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Ms Shakirat Karimu-Ikotun disclosed this to NAN in her office on Monday.

She spoke after receiving some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the British Council Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme.

Items presented by RoLAC include hand gloves, hand sanitisers, reusable face masks, hoes, brooms, cutlasses, rakes, wheelbarrows, printer inks and A4 papers, while the project was funded by the European Union.

Karimu-Ikotun said that many people were arrested for COVID-19 lockdown offences, saying that only few magistrates were available to handle their cases.

She said that all the offenders who pleaded guilty were given a non-custodian sentencing and were allowed to come from their various homes to carry out their community service for one or two weeks, depending on their offences.

“At least, we have supervised 730 offenders between April and May 15 over COVID-19 offences. We have many offenders but few courts were working to handle their cases.

“The community services carried out by offenders included public toilet washing, street sweeping, cutting of grass, clearing drainages, cleaning old peoples’ home,” she said.

Karimu-Ikotun appreciated RoLAC for the items donated to the unit, saying that the equipment would go a long way in protecting those on community service while carrying out the duties.

She appealed to the magistrates to always sentence minor offenders to community service, saying that this would reduce the number of inmates in various correctional centres, especially, those awaiting trials.

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The Programme Officer of RoLAC in Lagos, Mrs Ajibola Ajimakinwa, while presenting the items said that the aim of the intervention was to ensure a sustained service delivery during COVID-19 breakout.

Ajimakinwa said the donation would also strengthen the capacity of the Community Sentencing Unit to supervise community offenders.

“The current prevalence of COVID-19 has led to increase in the number of offenders sentenced to do community service. The COVID-19 outbreak and consequential lockdown restriction have made it necessary to support the unit.

“Courts in Lagos are now routinely resorting to non-custodian measures, which increases the demand for equipment for doing community service,” Ajimakinwa said.

Some PPE items were also presented by RoLAC to the Lagos State Police Command Family Support and Gender Units.

The programme officer said they were supporting the units due to their involvement in handling sexual and domestic violence, which she claimed had increased since the pandemic lockdown started.

“The current prevalence of COVID-19 has led to increase in cases of sexual and domestic violence and service providers such as Gender and SFUs should be supported to ensure they carry out their services without any hindrance,” she said.

CSP Omomobi Olutoyin, the Head of Gender Unit at the Lagos State Police Command, who received the items on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, appreciated RoLAC for the donation.

She said that the organisation had donated other items to the command in time past, saying that the items donated would go a long way in protecting the police personnel in the course of their duties. (NAN)

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