The Ebonyi State Chief Judge, Anselem Nwigwe, has granted freedom to 20 inmates of the Abakaliki Custodial Centre.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the inmates were freed during a jail delivery exercise embarked upon by the chief judge on Tuesday in Abakaliki, the state capital.
Mr Nwigwe, in a brief remark, noted that the exercise was part of efforts to decongest correctional centres in view of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.
He said 14 awaiting trial inmates were granted conditional bail, while four were granted bail on self-recognisance and two others discharged.
“We have released 20 inmates; 14 of them were granted conditional bail and will leave the facility once they fulfill the bail conditions.
“We granted bail to four on self-recognisance, while two were discharged.
“The exercise is aimed at complementing the state government’s efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the country.
“We have adjourned the exercise till May 6. It is a continuous one to decongest the custodial centres and enhance social distancing among inmates,” Mr Nwigwe said.
Meanwhile, the Controller of Correctional Services (CCS), Ebonyi Command, Emelia Oputa, has commended the exercise, saying it was part of the nationwide initiative to decongest custodial centres.
She said the exercise had become imperative due to the congestion in most of the correctional facilities, stressing that there was the need to create room for social distancing due to the pandemic.
“The exercise is in consideration of the need for the inmates, who are also part of the society, to distance themselves due to the pandemic.
“The jail delivery has given opportunity to those who ordinarily wouldn’t have regained freedom.
“The exercise is helping to decongest the facility, because as at two months ago, we had about 1,200 inmates. But now, we have 1,056 inmates.
“The exercise today has further decongested the yard, with the release of additional 20 inmates.
“Also we are not receiving fresh inmates, because there is lockdown in the custodial centres due to the ravaging pandemic,” Mrs Oputa said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that only awaiting trial inmates, with minor offences or special considerations, were released.