…CJ release 10 terminally-ill prisoners
Sam Oluwalana, Ibadan
About 84 male inmates of the Agodi Prison were released on Thursday by the Chief Judge of Oyo State, Honourable Justice Muntar Abimbola .
Of the lot, 67 were released on the compassionate ground, after it was discovered that they have overstayed their period in custody, while 10 were released on health grounds following the recommendations of the state chapters of the Nigerian Medical Association and the Nigerian Bar Association.
Seven others were released on the recommendation of the state’s Director of Public Prosecution, on the ground that they had no case to answer, as some of them were wrongfully charged.
Those released on health grounds according to the Prison officials include one person suffering from chronic renal disease, two people diagnosed of multi-drug resistance tuberculosis, two suspected renal disease patients, one incarcerate scrotal hyenia, one HIV/AIDS patient, one asthma and TB patient, one TB and chronic pneumonia.
Four others who suffer from acuteTB were also released, on the recommendation of the Prison’s Medical Officer.
The only female inmate, whose matter was brought to the attention of the Chief Judge’s team, was allowed to go, after she perfects her bail conditions.
The release of the prisoners was according to the CJ was done in the exercise of his powers to visit the prison to check the proceedings and trial of inmates and help to decongest the prison.
The eight hour-session was held at the Chapel hall, inside the Agodi Prisons and it was witnessed by top judicial officers, prison officials, officials of the directorate of public prosecution, the State Attorney General, Lawyers, Prosecutors, Police, officials of the Nigerian Bar Association and members of some Non-Governmental Organizations.
Justice Abimbola said: “This exercise which is statutory is expected to be frequent, but as a result of other official duties and demand of our office, it is coming up now after two years.
”This provisional visit is in exercise of a statutory provision to get trial inmates speedy trials and get the prison decongested.
“It is important and essential for us to visit the prisons, not necessarily to decongest the prison but to ensure inmates are given speedy trials. The power to decongest prisons is not at our whims and caprices. The exercise of prison visit and power to release is not a power capriciously exercised but they are exercised on three grounds, that is for; any inmate that is found to have unduly stayed longer in prison than what his/her prison terms would be, if found guilty.
There are some whose circumstances of arrest are not legally done and those afflicted with untreatable sicknesses”
The Controller of Prison, Oyo state command, Kasali Yusuf appreciated the visit of the CJ and he complained of many challenges facing the facilities as result of overstretching of the prison facilities.
He said the facility had 1084 inmates with 964 awaiting trials. He gave the breakdown of the figure to include, 956 males and 8 females.
While noting that majority of those awaiting trials are those on capital charges, Yusuf said that some of the inmates have communicable diseases, saying two particular inmates have been identified to be suffering from drug- resistance tuberculosis.
He said although he had reported the matter at the state security council meeting for consideration and assistance, he noted that the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice had promised to look into the matter and perfect the conditions of their release.
Commending the CJ, he noted that the visit and subsequent release of some inmates will give hope of becoming better persons to other inmates after their terms.
In her brief remarks after the release of the inmates, Justice Olajumoke Aiki charged the beneficiary of the prerogative of mercy from the CJ, to be of good conduct and not commit any crime that would bring them back to the prisons,
She pleaded with the released inmate to ensure they find good means of livelihood and ensure they contribute positively to the progress of the society.