Lagos State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba, on Wednesday, granted amnesty to 33 inmates from the five Custodial Centres of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS) in the State.
Speaking on the pardon at an open court session he superintended within the premises of Justice Samuel Ilori Court House, Ogba, the Chief Judge noted that the exercise was in line with the efforts by the Federal Government to decongest the prisons as stipulated in Section 6 of the1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, Chapter 40 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2005.
He said the release of the inmates was also pursuant to powers conferred on him to grant the prisoners a pardon pursuant to Section 1(1) of the Criminal Justice Release from Custody Special Provision Act.
Justice Alogba lamented that the prevalence of crimes in society has been so horrendous for anyone to consider releasing an inmate who has not been processed under the law.
He explained that the criteria used to determine those released were not based on sentiments but on stringent guidelines that were meticulously followed and scrutinised by the Justice Adenike Coker-led decongestion committee.
“Those released were found fit and suitable to be released back into the society”, the Chief Judge averred.
Justice Alogba, therefore, urged the pardoned inmates to be of good behaviour, just as he admonished them to retrace their steps and ensure they are not involved in any form of criminal activities ever, stressing that harder punishment would be meted out on any of the inmates caught committing a crime again.
He also praised the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) for their efforts to reform the inmates and make it easier for them to be reintegrated into society.
Earlier, in a welcome address, the Controller of Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS), Mr. Francis Adebisi remarked that the population in the Custodial Centres has become a great challenge due to congestion.
Adebisi said for instance that the Ikoyi Centre built to accommodate 800 has 2,665 inmates, Kirikiri Maximum Centre has over 2,000 as against the capacity of 1,056 while the Medium Centre has 3,117 as against 1,948 inmates.
He said the decision to release deserving inmates would go a long way to improve the situation at custodial centres across the State.