The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade Wednesday granted freedom to 153 awaiting trial inmates of the Kirikiri Maximum and Medium prisons.
The inmates who have been awaiting trial for three years and above were released under the prerogative of power vested on her pursuant to provision of section 1(1) of the Criminal Justice Release from Custody Special Provision Act Cap C40, 2007 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
While 24 of the inmates were released from the Maximum prison, 129 were released from the medium prison.
Among the 129 inmates released from the Medium prison, 79 were standing trial for capital offences while 50 were standing trial for minor offences.
Three of the inmates released from the Medium prison have been awaiting trial for over 16 years.
Justice Atilade in her remark said the amnesty extended to the released inmates was part of her statutory duty to continuously ensure that the prisons are decongested.
She urged the beneficiaries of her amnesty exercise to reciprocate the gesture by ensuring that they do not engage in any activity that would return back to crime.
The Chief Judge also enjoined all relevant stakeholders in the justice sector to join the prison decongestion effort by taking up pro bono service for those who cannot pay for lawyers.
Justice Atilade was accompanied on the visit by senior judges from the state judiciary, officials of the Lagos Ministry of Justice, members of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, various Non Governmental Organisation and representatives of the Nigerian Police.
In his remark, the Deputy Comptroller in charge of Kirikiri Maximum Prison, Seye Oduntan thanked the CJ for the amnesty gesture.
He pleaded with the CJ to ensure that the programme is a continuous one as more inmates who qualify for the exercise still abound in the prison.
The Lagos State Controller of Prisons, Timothy Tinuoye pleaded with Justice Atilade to use her office to prevail on the authority concerned to do something about 171 condemned prisoners awaiting execution in the Maximum security prison.
Recalling the condemnation that followed the decision of the Edo state government approving execution of some condemned criminals a few years ago, Tinuoye lamented that every governor have since then refused to sign the warrant for the execution of the condemned criminals.
He pleaded that if governments are not ready to execute them, the authority concerned should move them out of Lagos in order to decongest the Prison.
The Kirikiri Maximum Prison built with a capacity for 1,056 presently has 1235 inmates. While 772 of the inmates are awaiting trial, 83 are serving life sentence, 209 have been convicted while 171 are condemned prisoners.
At the Medium prison which has a 1700 cell capacity, 2853 inmates are currently at the prison. Out of this, 2,726 are awaiting trial, 128 have been convicted, 25 are lodgers, 19 are detainees while only one inmate is condemned.