Chief Judge of Lagos state, Justice Oluwafunmilayo Atilade again granted freedom to another 43 underaged inmates of Ikoyi Prison on Thursday.
Justice Atilade ordered that 12 of the freed inmates should be taken to Adigbe Forster Home, Pansheke, Ogun State “owing to the nature of the offences” for which they were being held in prison custody.
Their offences bordered on rape, attempted murder, murder and armed robbery.
She added that the exercise was carried out as part of the efforts to rid the prisons in the state of underage inmates, protect the Child Rights Act and also decongest the institutions.
Justice Atilade admonished the freed inmates to refrain from criminal activities henceforth and to be of good behaviour.
“I pronounce you free, pursuant to the provisions of Sections 1(1) of the Criminal Justice (Release from Custody) Act, 2007 as well as Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution. You are all hereby released from prison custody. Go and sin no more,” Atilade said.
The 43 inmates granted freedom yesterday when added to 142 freed from Badagry and Kirikiri Prisons on August 1and 14 respectively brought to 185 the total number of underage children, aged between 12 and 17, freed from prisons’ custody by the Chief Judge within the last 17 days.
Justice Atilade reiterated that the amnesty granted the inmates were to protect the Child Rights and also decongest the prison facilities.
She admonished the pardoned inmates to ensure that they refrained criminal activities henceforth, to be of good behaviour.
She emphasized that the Lagos State Government has zero tolerance for underaged inmates in prisons.
“The Lagos State Government has zero tolerance for children in prisons. Children have no business being in adult prisons,” she stressed.
She however commended the activities of Head of Prison Ministry, Fountain of Life Church, Mrs. Dupe Olubamowo, whose petition triggered the series of visits to the prison institutions in the state.
Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye, Chairman of the Prison Decongestion Committee also said that the issue of underaged in prisons is at the heartbeat of Lagos Judiciary.
She said that no child would be allowed to remain in prison again stressing that the exercise would be a continuous one.
She noted: ” the month of August has been a golden one in the calendar of the judiciary.
“We got alerted on the existence of children in prisons. On August 1, the chief judge released 80 children from Badagry Prison. Again on August 14, underaged numbering 62 were freed from Kirikiri Women and Medium Security Prisons”.
She advised those freed to ensure they do not do things that would bring them back to prison.
Head of the Family Courts, Justice Yetunde Idowu said no child below the age of 18 would be allowed to stay in prison again.
She also said that appropriate steps would be taken to ensure that children are no longer sent to prison.
” Don’t do things that would bring you back to prison. Keep yourself busy. Go back to school. Go and learn a trade”, she admonished them.
Earlier, the Deputy Controller of Prisons, Julius Ezugwu revealed that a total of 56 juveniles were in custody in the Ikoyi Prisons.
“It is my belief that at the end of this Jail Delivery exercise, the juveniles remand population of this prison would be completed depleted or scaled down to a meaningful size,” He said.