As part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Kazeem Alogba, on Tuesday, granted freedom to 18 inmates of Kirikiri Medium Security Correctional Centre.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the release of the inmates followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s order and further directive by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, to heads of courts to decongest correctional centres to curtail the spread of the disease among inmates.
The freed inmates, who had been incarcerated since 2016 for offences, such as stealing, burglary and fraudulent conversion, gained freedom at the event, themed: “Correctional Centres Decongestion Exercise.”
NAN also reports that they were released under the power vested on the Chief Judge under Section 1(1) of the Criminal Justice Release from Custody (Special Provisions) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2007.
In his address, Alogba admonished the freed prisoners to ‘go and sin no more’, adding that they should not breach the law again.
He warned that if any of them was found in breach of the law again, he/she would serve the full length of terms of imprisonment of his/her offences.
Alogba said that the prison decongestion exercise did not begin immediately after the orders of the president and the CJN because of the peculiarity of Lagos and the condition of the custodial centres in the state.
He said that because Lagos had a large number of defendants, due diligence had to be conducted on the submitted list to determine those who met the required qualifications.
“The exercise was also delayed to avoid past experiences, where people whose cases were going on well in court and nearing judgment, were released only to discover they were not qualified for such prerogative of mercy.
“We took so much time in doing a thorough and painstaking exercise on the information and the list provided us.
“We had to contact relevant courts handling their cases and other stakeholders, and cross-check records all through so that those we are processing are not those whose cases are in court and are making progress,” he said.
Earlier, in his address of welcome, the Controller of the Lagos State Command of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS), Mr Samuel Iyakoreagh, commended the chief judge and other judges for their efforts at ensuring that only those qualified benefited from the exercise.
Iyakoreagh noted that such exercise would assist the correctional centre in the management of other inmates.
He, however, appealed to Alogba to help the centre to liaise with the state government for reconstruction of the roads leading to the Kirikiri Medium Security Correctional Centre.
“Most times, when we leave the courts with inmates, we do not arrive at the correctional center until it is very late, due to bad conditions of the roads.
“The bad roads constitute threats to our lives while conveying the inmates,” he said. (NAN)