66 inmates awaiting trials at the Kiri-Kiri Medium Security prison have been released by the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade, on Tuesday.
Atildade freed the inmates, who were being held for alleged non-capital offences, during his visit to the prison.
She noted that the move was part of the efforts of the judiciary and other stakeholders to decongest the prison, whose normal capacity was for 1,700 inmates, but as of Tuesday had a total of 3,326 inmates.
She said she was releasing the inmates in exercise of the power conferred on her as the Chief Judge by Section 1(1) of the Criminal Justice Release from Custody Special Provisions Act, Cap 40, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2007.
Thirty-five inmates were initially scheduled to be granted amnesty by Atilade, but the figure rose to 66 inmates after the prison authorities appealed to her to free additional 31 inmates in order to decongest the heavily populated facility.
The additional 31 inmates released comprised majorly suspects picked from under bridges and streets of Lagos.
According to the CJ, over 100 requests for amnesty were received by the state amnesty committee headed by Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye, out of which 35 were approved.
Admonishing the freed inmates to “go and sin no more,” Atilade said the only way to reciprocate the gesture was for them to thenceforth live a good life and be of good conduct.
“The impact of this exercise can only be felt when you, the beneficiaries of this amnesty gesture, show that you are truly reformed. I wish you the very best and you should see this as an opportunity to start afresh.
“You are, hereby, released from this prison today (Tuesday) May 9, 2017. Go and sin no more,” she said.
Justice Atilade, in her address, said the objective of the exercise was not only to decongest the prison, but to ensure that the freed inmates were truly reformed.
“Our visit to the Kirikiri Medium Security Prison is to ensure the reduction of awaiting-trial inmates and to make sure that cases are dispensed judiciously and within the permissible time frame.
“I hope the beneficiaries have learnt substantially from their previous mistakes and I hope that as they are reintegrated into the society, they will not do anything that will bring them back to the prison,” Atilade said.
The Deputy Controller of Prisons, Mr. Yomi Oluwaniyi, decried the deplorable state of the prison, saying that the facility was in dire need of new structures and vehicles.
“In view of the rising population of inmates, the initial capacity of this prison was 1,700, but it is currently heavily overpopulated.
“By reason of this overpopulation, the facilities and resources of this prison are seriously overstretched and we are trying to manage resources as a result.
“This is why we are appealing to Your Lordship to use your influence to prevail on the Lagos State Government to build two more structures for us here.
“We also need two vehicles to ease the challenge of transporting inmates to courts where their matters are being handled,” he said.
Oluwaniyi thanked Atilade for her visit and expressed hope that the Chief Judge would make at least three more visits to grant amnesty to prisoners before the end of the year.