The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba, has granted freedom and the reintegration of 30 inmates listed for amnesty programme into the society.
The inmates were pardoned at an open court session presided over by the Chief Judge at the premises of Ikeja Magistrates’ Court in Ogba.
While releasing the inmates, Hon. Alogba said the exercise was in line with the efforts by the Federal Government to decongest custodial centres as stipulated in Sections 1(1) of the Criminal Justice Release from Custody Act, Cap C40, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2007 and 377 (c) of the Administration of Criminal Justice (Amendment) Law 2021.
According to him, the amnesty is guided by relevant laws upon fulfilment of requisites, before it could be embarked upon. He added that the exercise was related to people who had stayed much longer than they would have stayed upon conviction and those whose trials had been stalled.
He explained that the awaiting trial inmates at the overstretch Correctional Centre were a result of system failure, not as a failure of the judiciary but due to ancillary factors, stressing that hearing of cases had not been going promptly.
“Cases are not going on in courts not because the Magistrates or Judges are not upright in their duties but the failure is due to hitches in the course of prosecuting offenders”, he said.
The Chief Judge also commended the committee that looked into the case of those released for doing a thorough job.
In his remark, the Controller of Nigeria Correctional Services (NCS), Lagos, Mr. Ben Freedman, represented by the Deputy Controller of NCS, Lagos Command, DCC Comfort Obiosio, revealed that almost 9000 inmates are in the three Correctional Centres in the State.
She, therefore, urged the Chief Judge to use his good office to see that privileges were given to some remorseful inmates in order to decongest the correctional centres.
On his part, the Lagos State Commissioner for Police, CP Idowu Owohunwa, represented by the Deputy Commissioner for Police, DCP Waheed Ayilara, said that the Nigeria Police as a partner in the justice system, would continue to ensure due process and the exercise should be a continuous one in order to curb the shortfall as maximum capacity was about 1, 500.
“The Police will continue to be diligent in their investigation in order to help with the decongestion”, Owohunwa said.
Those granted freedom included four juveniles who were from a Foster Home, Borstal Training Institution, Adigbe in Abeokuta. Others were released from Ikoyi and Kirikiri Correctional Centre.
Some of the inmates had been in the correctional facilities since 2013 before they were granted freedom.