Following the power conferred on Chief Judges to conduct decongestion of Correctional Centers (prisons) in the nation, the newly sworn-in Chief Judge of Ebonyi State, Justice Anselm Nwigwe has freed 16 inmates.
The 16 inmates whom their joy knew no bounds during the exercise were those from both Abakaliki and Afikpo Correctional Centers in the state.
An orphan, Ezaka Chimaobi, native of Onunwachi Amana Ezza South Local Government Area accused of stealing was discharged and acquitted from Ugwuachara Juvenile Remand Home.
The one who was mentally deranged at Afikpo Prison, the CJ ordered that he be taken to a rehabilitation center for appropriate attention while fourteen others were granted bail on various conditions.
Among them were Miss Victoria Joseph and Amarachi Ofoba both aged 21, natives of Nkaliki accused of housebreaking and stealing of ladies’ pants, leggings, and bras, have spent 12 calendar months in the center without case file or any information filed at DPP against them.
The ladies who were arraigned and dumped in prison for stealing underwear in the suit numbered MAB\818c\2018 received mercy during the exercise as they were granted bail in most liberal terms.
The CJ granted them bail in the like sum of N50,000 each, their parents irrespective of their status were allowed to stand as sureties for them but must reside within the jurisdiction of the court.
He advised them to turn a new leaf, then make peace with the complainant when they get home and threatened that if they persist in such behaviors and are brought back, they shall be allowed to face the full wrath of the law.
Many other suspects whose time of freedom was made closer by transfer of the matters to the appropriate jurisdictions include a 53 years old woman, Mrs. Paulina Nwanga from Amaoffia Ukawu Abaomege of Onicha Local Government Area, dumped in Abakaliki Prison alongside her four sons in the case of murder, the Chief judge ordered their transfer to Afikpo Prison to facilitate their attendance to court and progress of the matter.
“We freed those who are no longer supposed to be here considering the gravity of their offenses and the supposed period of prison terms for the offenses, as well as those who are not on trial, we discharged one person no longer supposed to be here because he has overstayed his term, assuming he was convicted.”
“The Chief Judge goes to prison from time to time to either discharge or grant bail to those who are no longer supposed to be there. We shall visit the facilities again on or before December 2019 to further decongest it”, the Chief Judge assured.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the exercise, the State Comptroller of Nigerian Correctional Service, Mrs. Emilia Oputa pledged to further synergize with the police, the Director of Public Prosecution, human right commission and all stakeholders to ensure adequate Correctional measures in place which shall make it easier for the inmates when freed to integrate faster into the society.
Corroborating her, the Deputy Comptroller, Nwagu Raymond said, “We have one very sick inmate whose name is on the list, we expected that the Chief Judge would have attended to him, but he knows how and why he did not do that. We have those who are above seventy as you said and who may have committed one crime or the other. The Chief Judge knows the criteria he uses to select those to either be granted bail or discharged.
Our duty is to prepare the list, specify the categories correctly on time for the Chief Judge to attend to. I suggest the visit should be made more often. I know this is the first prison decongestion outing by the new Chief Judge, so I believe in the subsequent visits that there shall be improvements