ANOTHER set of twenty-six inmates were yesterday, released from Ikoyi Prisons in Lagos.
The gestures was again, at the instance of the Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade.
She said it was because the released inmates had been in prison awaiting trial for period ranging from two months and above.
The exercise, which has brought to 47 the number of awaiting trials granted freedom, was part of the on-going efforts to decongest the prisons.
Justice Atilade had on Wednesday freed the first set of 21 inmates from the Medium Security Prisons, Kirikiri.
She noted that her visit to the prisons to release inmates would be a continuous exercise particularly for those of lesser offences, adding that the justice sector would look into those with minor cases of robbery and sexual offences in future.
She however counseled those who were released to stay away from companies that would bring them back to prisons.
While releasing the awaiting trials, Justice Atilade counselled them to be of good behaviour henceforth, saying: “I release all you today 18th day of June, 2015 from custody pursuant to the powers conferred on me and admonish you to go and sin no more. I urge you to keep away from crime as the state government has zero tolerance for crime”.
She then told other inmates awaiting trial not to lose hope in the system. She also promised them that they would continue to review their cases with a view to releasing those who have spent more time in prison than they would have if convicted.
During the ceremony, 16 inmates were physically present while ten others had earlier left the prison walls on the approval of the state chief judge.
And like those released on Wednesday, this was also done in exercise of the powers conferred on her under Section 1 (1) of the Criminal Justice Release from Custody Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2007 and provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Justice Atilade reinstated the commitment she gave August last year on assumption of duty to reduce delay in justice delivery and ensure effective criminal justice administration system in the state as well as ensuring effective prison decongestion.
Further, she urged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to take up Pro Bono cases on behalf of awaiting trials to avoid delays in justice administration while also calling on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders working with the prisons authority to ensure that those release are properly counselled before they are integrated back into the society.
Deputy Controller of Prisons (DCP), Ikoyi, Bamidele Emmanuel, said 70 out of 116 inmates that wrote the last November/December GCE passed creditably and that 27 inmates who wrote the electronic based examination scored between 170 and 240. He also informed that some of the inmates are also undergoing various courses at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in Victoria Island. As such, he said that some inmates of Ikoyi prison have been sufficiently trained and prepared for integration back into the society, noting that the reintegration of discharged and released inmates back into the society is a collective responsibility and should be of concern to all and sundry.
Senior members of the judiciary, including Justices of the High Court of Lagos State, Oluwatoyin Ipaye, Aishat Opesanwo, Kudirat Jose, Lateef Lawal-Akapo, Sedoten Ogunsanya and the Chief Registrar, Emmanuel Ogundare and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Idowu Alakija, including executive members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) branches of Ikeja, Lagos, Ikorodu and Badagry, accompanied the Lagos Chief Judge to the prison.