By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Presidential Committee on Prisons Reform and Decongestion, has been living up to their mandate as a total of 165 inmates of Kastina Central prison regain freedom.
The Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello- led committee visited the Katsina state governor, Amino Bello Masari and commended his efforts in reforming and decongesting prisons in the state.
He pleaded with the Governor to consider the plight of convicts who were sentenced in Katsina State, but were serving their sentences in other states.
During the visit to the prison, 49 convicts with minor offenses but unable to pay their fines had their fines paid by the Katsina State Government, while a female inmate who was held for “intentional insult and provocation “ had her fine of 50,000 naira paid by the Federal Ministry of Justice.
One awaiting trial person (ATP) was discharged, while two terrorism suspects had their cases transferred to the Federal High Court.
Eleven other ATPs also had their cases transferred to the Katsina State High Court from the Magistrates Courts.
Four inmates accused of minor offences including one who had a serious and infected wound were discharged on basis of ill-health.
A special case of an 83 year old crippled man who was accused of attempted rape and had spent three years and eight months was released on grounds of old age and ill-health.
In his speech, the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, who was represented by a Director in the Ministry, Mr. Pius Oteh, said a critical aspect of the committee’s assignment was to bring about reforms to the prisons service which are in line with global standards.
He also added that the committee actually seeks the assistance and cooperation of the various state governments in carrying out its mandate, particularly regarding payment of fines.
The governor in his response called for more participation of the state governments in the management of prisons. He further added that it was necessary to separate awaiting trial persons (ATPs) from convicts.
Following an observation by the Chairman of the Committee, the Katsina State Attorney-General and DPP agreed to conduct a review of all cases of persons awaiting trial on charges of belonging to gang of thieves BGT). The Review is to be concluded by mid-April.
Other delegation to the state include the Representative of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Mr Pius Oteh, a director in the Ministry of Justice, the Secretary of the Committee, Mrs. Leticia Ayoola-Daniels, Dep Director in the ministry, Assistant Comptroller-General of Prisons, Mr. Abubakar Garba and the Rep of the National Security Adviser, Col. Olutayo Adesuyi.