The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, yesterday freed 14 inmates from the Ikoyi Prisons in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Phillips released the inmates who had been awaiting trial during her visit to the detention facility.
The exercise brings the total number of inmates released by Phillips within the last two years to 686.
The inmates were set free from prison facilities across the state during her numerous visits since she assumed office on June 15, 2012.
The release is pursuant to the provisions of Section 1(1) of the Criminal Justice Release from Custody Special Provision Act, CAP C40, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2007.
The law empowers the chief judge to release inmates awaiting trial for a long duration and others that have shown genuine remorse for their offences.
In her speech, Phillips said the release of inmates awaiting trial was a deliberate attempt by the Lagos State Judiciary to reduce prison congestion.
Phillips said: “The problem of prison congestion is of great concern to all stakeholders in the justice sector.
“I hope that in the two years I have been the chief judge, I have been able to make some way forward in reducing congestion in our prisons.”
The chief judge noted that the introduction of the new bail system would help to improve the situation.
She also expressed optimism that her successor would also take up the challenge of finding a lasting solution to the problem.
Philip admonished the freed inmates to “go and sin no more’’ by making meaningful purposes of their lives.
“I hope that those who will be released today will not have any cause to return within the four walls of any prison again,” the chief judge said.
Earlier in his address, the Deputy Controller of Ikoyi Prisons, Mr Emmanuel Bamidele, said the prison, with a capacity of 800 inmates, had an open-out population of 1,908.
Bamidele said 1,714 of these were awaiting-trial inmates, while only 194 inmates had been convicted.
Bamidele said that more than 100 inmates recently sat for the General Certificate Examination, with not less than 50 of them passing creditably.
According to him, about 14 inmates who sat for the last Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations scored between 160 and 220 in the computer-based examination. (NAN)