The Ogun State Chief Judge, Olatokunbo Olopade, on Thursday granted pardon to 106 inmates as part of efforts to decongest prisons in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mrs. Olopade pardoned the inmates during her three-day tour of prison formations at Ibara and Oba in Abeokuta as well as those in Ilaro, Sagamu and Ijebu-Ode.
NAN reports that 38 inmates were released from Oba prison, 31 in Ibara, 13 in Ilaro, eight in Sagamu, while 16 inmates were set free in Ijebu-Ode prison.
Speaking during the visits, the judge said the pardon was to decongest the prisons across the country in line with the directive of the Attorney General of the Federation.
According to Mrs. Olopade, state chief judges were directed to visit prison formations within their jurisdictions and release inmates ”that should not be in custody.”
She said the exercise, the second in 2017 legal year, was aimed at decongesting the prisons and release inmates who had been in custody without trial over a long period of time.
According to her, the prolonged detention of most of the inmates is due to negligence on the part of the prosecuting authorities.
“Most of the inmates have been on awaiting adviçe from the DPP (Director of Public Prosecution) for years, and the DPP failed to render legal advice, and issues of missing case files as well as prison officers not producing inmates to court at the appropriate time are responsible for the delay in the judicial process.
“I see no point keeping people here for years without no file or delay in legal advice; it is injustice,” she said.
Mrs. Olopade, however, charged all stakeholders in the administration of justice to accelerate trial of cases and make effective use of the ‘fast-track clinics’ provided by the state government to achieve the set objective of decongesting the prisons.
The CJ appealed to the prisons service to address the issue of not transporting inmates to court.
She said the prisons service should work effectively with the Ministry of Justice in the discharge of their duties towards speedy dispensation of justice to help in eliminating congestion in prisons.
She appealed to the government to provide more magistrates and magistrates courts, saying that the courts needed more qualified personnel.
“The magistrates and judges are trying, we need more magistrates courts and magistrates in Ogun in order to manage legal cases,” she said.
She, however, admonished the freed inmates to make the best use of the amnesty by shunning crime and criminal activities capable of bringing them back to prison.
Kolawole Olatunde, the deputy comptroller in charge of Ibara Prison commended the CJ for freeing the inmates and called for frequent visits by the chief judge.
He also commended the Federal Government for supporting the prisons with logistics.