… As Lagos CJ frees 153 inmates
By Chris Iwarah and Lukman Olabiyi
CONTROLLER of Prisons in Lagos State, Mr. Timothy Tinuoye yesterday said governors in the country are compounding challenges of prison congestion with their refusal to sign death warrant.
Tinuoye said this during the visit of the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade to the Kirikiri Maximum and Medium prisons, where she set 153 awaiting-trial inmates free.
The inmates, who had been in detention for a minimum of three years, were set free by the chief judge under section 1(1) of the Criminal Justice Release from Custody (Special Provision) Act.
Seventy-nine of the 129 inmates released from the Medium Prisons were said to be charged with capital offences, while 50 others were standing trial for minor offences. Three of the lucky inmates at the facility, Daily Sun learnt, had been in detention for between 11 to16 years. Twenty-four inmates in the Maximum Prisons were also freed.
The 1,056-capacity Kirikiri Maximum Prisons now has 1,235 inmates. While 772 of the inmates are in the awaiting-trial category, 171 are condemned prisoners, 83 are serving life sentences and 209 are facing different jail terms.
The Medium Prisons, which was planned to hold 1,700 inmates, now accommodates 2,853 prisoners. While 2,726 of the inmates are awaiting trial, one is a condemned person.
Justice Atilade said the inmates’ release was part of her statutory role to decongest the facilities. She urged the beneficiaries to reciprocate the gesture by shunning crime.
“The beneficiaries are being given another opportunity to breathe the air of relief and make them useful to the society. Let it not be heard that you do something that will bring you back to the prison. Go and sin no more,” she said.
The chief judge appealed to lawyers and other justice sector stakeholders to support the prison decongestion programme by taking up the cases of indigent inmates free of charge.
Tinuoye, however, urged the chief judge to prevail on the authorities to decide the fate of the 172 condemned prisoners awaiting execution in the Maximum and Medium prisons. He regretted that governors in the country refused to sign the warrants for execution of the condemned persons, saying the development was worsening the challenge of prison congestion.
Deputy Comptroller of Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, Mr. Seye Oduntan commended the chief judge for the gesture. He said there were other inmates in the facility qualified for Justice Atilade’s pardon.