The Inspector-General of Police IGP Intelligence Response Unit (IRT) , Southwest zone,Lagos has decongested its cell and set to release some of the 70 suspects in detention.
IRT ,led by DCP Aba Kyari, last Thursday , invited three notable magistrates to look into the case files of suspects and recommend what to be done on their matters since the Judicial workers have been on strike.
IRT Legal Officer, ASP Nosa Uhumwangho, said that the decongestion was prompted at the instance of the unit due to the prolonged strike by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
JUSUN on April 6 directed its members to shut down all courts across the country, demanding the implementation of law granting financial autonomy to the Judiciary.
The strike has however, been suspended as JUSUN directed that courts resume sitting on Monday, June 14.
ASP Uhumwangho, said three Magistrates took part in the process which was intended to decongest the cell and make recommendations for detainees whom had overstayed in the cell.
Reacting to leniency on the part of the Magistrates, Uhumwangho said the Magistrates were only doing their job as a lacuna had being created by the law which is what they operate on.
“It is true that some cases can not be concluded in 48 hours so it is necessary and mandatory to seek order for continuous remand.
“Although courts are on strike now but we are just hearing the good news that the Court will resume on Monday ,so by next week we will arraign those recommend by the magistrates and release those who they have ordered that we should release so our cells will be decongested.
“We had to invite the Magistrates because of the congestion in the cell. Some of the suspects in the cell also need to do COVID-19 test before being taken to the Court and correctional centre as the case may be. We are facing serious challenges,but members of the public may not understand. Some cases carry capital punishment when the offenders are found guilty,so we can’t grant them bail, except the Court says so. With what happened today, some suspects have been granted bail by the magistrates and we have to do so immediately. We were asked to take some to Court on Monday”.
ASP Uhumwangho, further commended the effort of the Magistrates, saying that investigation Police officers are being reminded that suspects should not be kept longer than necessary in police custody.
“We learnt a lot from the Magistrates. Our IPOs have learnt that once a suspect is in the cell, his feeding and treatment whenever he falls ill is the responsibility of the police. We are so happy that our cells have been decongested. Our Commander DCP Abba Kyari, and Southwest Commander, CSP Ugowe are so happy because they hate when suspects are being detained more than necessary”
The legal officer also noted that one of the suspects, Collins Okonkwo, would be taken back to Owerri, Imo State ,where he committed a crime of armed robbery and kidnapping but escaped and was rearrested in Lagos.
Our correspondents observed that some suspects were recommended to be released with immediate effect, some recommended for administrative bail while some were directed to be arraigned as soon as courts resume sitting.