Oyo CJ releases 32 inmates from Agodi custodial centre

Oyo CJ releases 32 inmates from Agodi custodial centre

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The Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Iyabo Yerima, released 32 inmates on Monday, 31 unconditionally and the last one sentenced to community service within the custodial centre, from the Agodi Custodial Centre of the Nigeria Correctional Service, in furtherance of the exercise of her power of release from custody as provided in Chapter 40, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) 2016, Oyo State, Nigeria.

The programme, which was the first leg of a two-day exercise, was based on the vision of decongesting the already overstretched prison and also ensuring that justice is seen to have been manifestly done.

Speaking during the exercise, Justice Yerima said that in the face of the law, every suspect is deemed innocent until proven guilty, and because the prisons are congested, there is a need to look at ways to remedy the situation and reduce the overcrowding of prisons, especially in order to avoid outbreaks of diseases on the basis of incarceration, which is longer than the penalty if convicted, and people who have contagious diseases, in line with statutory provisions for the release of the inmate.

She said the aim was to decongest the already overstretched prison facility, adding that there is no argument that there is congestion in the prison considering the number of awaiting trial inmates.

“There is congestion in the prison, and that is why we are here. The administration of criminal justice provides for the decongestion of prisons as a statutory responsibility. We have a statutory duty under the constitution to frequently decongest the prison

“The exercise is for those unlawfully arrested or who 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,” she added.

The Chief Judge said that the exercise on Monday was tedious due to some administrative lapses in some quarters, but explained that the exercise will be carried out every three months so that the exercise of decongesting the prisons will be effective.

The list for consideration had about 200 names, of which 31 were released unconditionally for unreasonable delay in their trial, being underage, and on compassionate grounds for health issues, while one man, Hazeez Abeeb (220), who was alleged to have stolen a phone, was sentenced to community service within the custodial centre.

The Nigerian Tribune reports that the administration of criminal justice provides for decongestion of prison as a statutory responsibility, especially for issues involving people unlawfully arrested or who 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.

At the time of the exercise on Monday, Agodi Custodial Centre, which has a capacity to house 380 inmates, had an open house of 1250, out of which 177 had been convicted and 1049 were awaiting trial.

One of the 31 people released was a 13-year-old Senior Secondary School 1 student of Oluyole Grammar School, Ayomide Oladejo, who was wrongfully arrested alongside some people who were alleged to have stolen cement. While those he was arrested with had been granted bail, he was remanded because he couldn’t perfect his bail condition.

Speaking at the exercise, the Comptroller of Prison, Oyo State Command, Abdulraheem Salami, stated that the exercise of prerogatives over the CJ’s pardon of inmates was an answer to his appeal, as the prison was already overstretched and they were only trying to maintain law and order as well as prevent an epidemic outbreak.

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