From: Paul Osuyi, Asaba
A nursing mother of a two-month baby was among 65 inmates that regained freedom at the Warrior Medium Prison in Delta State during the visit of the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Marshal Umukoro.
The nursing mother was standing trial for grievous harm.
Also released on bail was a pregnant woman while a man remanded in prison custody for over eight months for stealing a bottle of Benlyin cough syrup worth N1,200 was ordered to be set free by the Chief Judge.
The action of the Chief Judge, who concluded his 2017 quarterly visit, sparked off wild jubilation at the prison facility.
Justice Umukoro ordered their release on the grounds of ill-health, lack of diligent prosecution, offence committed not known to law and no case submissions rendered by the Attorney-General of the state through the Director of Public Prosecution.
Other criteria used by the Chief Judge to free the inmates were on the grounds of the validity of the remand warrants whether it was issued by a court of competent jurisdiction, the period the inmate had spent in custody awaiting trial and other exceptional circumstances.
Justice Umukoro said he reviewed 3,036 remand warrants and released a total of number of 150 inmates from the Agbor, Ogwashi-Uku, Kwale, Sapele and Warri Prisons in an exercise that started on November 14.
He disclosed that the visit to the prison complex was in pursuant to the provision of the Criminal Justice (Release from Custody (Special Provision) Act Cap, Volume 4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and in order to exemplify the passionate desire of the Honourable Chief Judge to decongest the prisons.
While lamenting the high number of youths ‘wasting’ in prison custody, he observed that most inmates find their way into prisons because they refused to live within the confines of law and morality.
The Chief Judge said the ages of majority of the inmates fall within between 17 and 27 years, which, according to him, showed a gross dysfunction in our family system in the country, adding that many of them were from poor background but was quick to say that poverty should not be an excuse to go into crime.
Commending the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr. Ernest Edomwonyi and his team for their contributions toward the success of the exercise, Justice Umukoro called for the reorganisation of some zonal offices of the Ministry of Justice for more effective service delivery.