The Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Munta Abimbola, on Tuesday, freed no fewer than 51 inmates from the Agodi Prison in Ibadan.
The exercise, Akelicious gathered, was in furtherance of the exercise of his power of release inmates from prison custody as provided for by the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) 2016, Oyo State of Nigeria.
It was the commencement of a two-day exercise aimed at de-congesting the already overstretched prison facilities and ensure that justice is seen to have been manifestly done.
Abimbola pointed out that there is no argument that there is congestion in the prison considering the figures of awaiting-trial inmates.
He explained that the difference in the people involved in the exercise this year is due to the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2016 which repealed the Criminal Procedure Law of the state, adding that the law gave the responsibility to the ACJL Monitoring Committee.
“The conclusion is that there is congestion in the prison and that is why we are here. The administration of criminal justice provides for de-congestion of prison as a statutory responsibility. We have a statutory duty under the constitution to frequently de-congest the prison.
“Specifically Administration of Criminal Justice Law provides for effective management of the Criminal Justice Institutions (System); speedy and expeditious determination of Criminal cases; de-congestion of prisons and ensuring synergy and cooperation amongst all the sectors in the administration of criminal justice in the state.
“The exercise is for those unlawfully arrested or have stayed behind bars longer than the period they should have stayed if convicted; those whose trial has been unduly delayed or those whose condition requires being shown mercy in line with the provision of the law.”
DAILY POST gathered that Agodi prison was designed to accommodate 290 inmates but at the time of the exercise, the prison had an open house of 1226 inmates, consisting of 1041 awaiting trial inmates; 1030 male and 11 females.
The list for consideration had 205 names out of which 51 were released unconditionally for unreasonable delay in their trial, being underaged and on compassionate grounds for health issues.
Some inmates, who do not have legal representation, were given pro bono lawyers to allow them commence their trial while all freed housemates were given transport fare back to their various homes.
The Comptroller of Prison in Oyo state, Tosin Akinrojumu, in his address, stated that it gives the prison authority joy to benefit from the CJ’s prerogative of pardon of inmates, as the prison was already overstretched and they are only trying to maintain law and order as well as prevent an epidemic outbreak.