The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Oluwafumilayo Atilade, released 20 inmates from Ikoyi prisons on Tuesday as part of her constitutional powers.
She performed the gesture to marking the 2016/2017 legal year.
According to her, ”It is better for 10 guilty persons to go scot free than for one innocent person to suffer being punished unjustly.”
She added: “I have taken it as one of the key pillars in my administration to regularly conduct this visit with a view to granting amnesty to eligible and deserving inmates.
“It is a notorious fact that the number of awaiting trial inmates far exceeds those of convicted inmates, and for this reason, my administration has established a Prison Decongestion Committee to set up criteria for the release of inmates.”
But what makes prisons congested?
Atilade, who made the pronouncement at a mini-court session conducted at the prisons, revealed reasons why large number of inmates awaiting trial are usually found in various prisons. She listed them as:
- Police investigation: Sometimes suspects are refused bail. They have to remain under custody due to this.
- Time lag between the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
- The actual filing of cases in court: When court cases are not filed on time, an accused person is left hanging, that is, he remains in custody.
- Occasional delays such as transportation of inmates to court: This results to the delay of trials of suspects in custody.
- Lack of legal representation: Due to this, cases are often delayed, which means the accused remain in custody.