John ODHE, Yenagoa
Chief Judge of Bayelsa state, Justice Kate Abiri has freed five inmates of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Okaka in Yenagoa, and also granted bail to many others. This is in the spirit of the COVID-19 fight.
The CJ, who had a court session at the Okaka correctional centre said the jail delivery exercise was in line with the Criminal Justice Special Provisions Act Cap C40 Laws of Bayelsa state which empowers her to release, under certain circumstances, persons detained in prison in the state.
The Chief Judge noted that inmates awaiting trial ought not to remain in custody if such persons were not involved in capital offences such as murder, robbery and kidnapping.
She added that the five inmates released had been in custody beyond necessary, pointing out that the prosecution of their cases were either moving at slow pace or were not heard at all for one reason or the other.
“Five persons were discharged, others were granted bail while some were sent back to the courts for the court to review their bail conditions. Those that ought to have this blessing of being discharged are not those that are charged with offences that attract capital punishment.
“What we have put in place is that these cases will be heard expeditiously. In as much as the lockdown is on-going, the courts are directed to begin to handle those cases that are in custody day to day and it is only those cases that should be handled, no other case should be handled this period,” she added.
In his remarks, the Controller of Corrections, Okaka Correctional Centre, Mr. Jonathan Edoghotu thanked the CJ for ensuring that the correctional centre was decongested.
He, however, expressed worries that if something was not done in the next three months to decongest the prison, it would be difficult for new inmates to be admitted into the Okaka correctional centre.
“When we found the correctional centre to be in this condition of congestion, we quickly reported to the chief judge, attorney general of the state and the Nigeria Bar Association for them to take action.
“Within the next three months, something has to be done by the chief judge and the attorney general. If nothing is done, we will now stop inmates being admitted into the custodian centre.
The controller also highlighted lack of operational vehicles and inadequate accommodation as some challenges facing the Okaka Correctional centre.