Thirty-one inmates of Ikoyi Prison were, on Thursday, set free, as a part of the amnesty programme by the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Oluwafunmilayo Atilade.
The Chief Judge said the programme was a gesture aimed at decongesting the prison, in-order to ensure that deserving inmates were made to breathe the fresh air of freedom.
She had, on Wednesday, released a total of 153 inmates from the Kirikiri Maximum and Medium prisons.
While congratulating the beneficiaries, Atilade admonished them to be of good behaviour and make positive impacts in the society.
“Let it not be heard that you return to crime again; you must, henceforth, be of good behaviour. You should all see this as an oppurtunity for a new beginning.
“This administration is committed to decongesting the prisons, and that situations where cases are allowed to prolong, unnecessarily, in court will not be tolerated”.
Speaking on why many deserving inmates do not benefit from the amnesty programme, the Chief Judge urged the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) to always provide the Prison Decongestion Committee detailed information about the awaiting trial inmates.
She admonished the DPP to develop mechanism where case the files of inmates could easily be accessed and reviewed by the committee.
Justice Atilade also noted that the prison authorities must also be up and doing by giving adequate and relevant information to the decongestion committee.
The Deputy Comptroller in charge of Ikoyi Prison, Julius Ezeugwu, thanked the Chief Judge for releasing the inmates.
Ezeugwu noted that in spite of the large number of awaiting- trial inmates, the facility personnel have continued to make the place a truly reformatory prison.
“Your lordship, it is pertinent at this juncture to state that our open out today stands at 2, 295 out of which Awaiting Trial Inmates (ATM) constitute 2, 009 inmates. This constitutes about 90 per cent, while the convicted inmates are just 286. This is about 10 per cent in a prison with a lock up capacity of 800 inmates”, he said.
Ezeugwu also noted that Ikoyi is run as a full correctional institute for reformation and rehabilitation of offenders in contrast to the erroneous impression or notion of Nigerian prisons as mere warehouse for criminal elements or a dungeon.
“This is a place where the inmates will live a positive life when released into the society, because of the training they’ve had”, he stated.