Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police (IGP), has barred police officers from detaining suspects for minor offences over the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement on Sunday, Frank Mba, police spokesman, quoted the IGP as saying detention should be reduced to the barest minimum, and only for “serious offences”.
Police stations across the country are known to be filled beyond their capacity.
Mba said: “The IGP, while urging officers to observe personal safety measures, further directs the Zonal AIGs and Command CPs to ensure that cases of unnecessary arrests and detention of suspects are not condoned.
“He reiterates that detention of suspects must be reduced to the barest minimum and that only very serious cases such as terrorism, armed robbery, homicide and other non-bailable offences should warrant detention.”
The police IG also asked officers nationwide to ensure all orders given by relevant authorities to curb the spread of the virus are “strictly enforced”.
He also directed that necessary measures should be taken to screen persons that would be held in custody.
“The IGP enjoins citizens to avoid social visits to police stations and other police offices and minimize official visits, except where absolutely necessary,” the statement added.
“Also, in compliance with the Federal Government’s directive that all tertiary institutions be shut, the IGP has ordered the immediate closure of the Nigeria Police Academy as well as all Police Primary and Secondary Schools nationwide.”
Adamu asked all police commissioners to immediately publish phone numbers of their command control rooms, area commanders and divisional police officers (DPOs) “to facilitate alternative interacting and reporting options between the public and the police”.
Nigeria has 27 cases of coronavirus across five states as of Sunday morning.
Apart from shutting down schools, some states have asked workers not to go to office so as to curb the spread of the disease.