By Chinwe Imo-Eze Onwosi
The Chief Judge of Ebonyi State, Justice Elvis Ngene, has ordered the release of 23 inmates at the state custodial centers of the Nigerian Correctional service.
Justice Ngene stated that the decision to release the 23 of the 308 awaiting trial inmates at the centres was painstakingly taken after their cases were reviewed.
The Chief Judge during inspection of the facilities, lauded officials of the correctional centres in Abakaliki and Afikpo for their adequate preparation.
In addition, the Chief Judge discharged and acquitted four suspects and granted conditional bail to four inmates, while he also granted bail to four others on self-recognition.
At Afikpo Correctional Centre, two persons were discharged and acquitted; four persons were granted bail on various conditions while four persons got bail on self-recognition.
Ngene said that “This exercise is a regular one aimed at decongesting the correctional centres. We don’t throw open the gate for all to go home but we grant freedom to deserving ones. Deserving ones are ones whose cases are minor and are pending before the court over a long time.
“Some have spent more than they would have served if they had been convicted. Those were the kinds of persons we granted pardon.”
The Controller, Nigeria Correctional Service, Ebonyi State, Anthony Chigbata while expressing appreciation to the Chief Judge for the initiative, said that the decongestion exercise would help in stabilizing the emotions of the inmates who are yet to regain their freedom and, as well, rekindle their hope.
He also appealed to the state’s Chief Judge to consider the non-custodial sentencing of suspects to further ensure the decongestion of the custodial facilities.