Emotion and jubilation were high yesterday at Onitsha Prisons, as 13 awaiting trial inmates regained their freedom, as Anambra state Chief Judge, Justice Peter Umeadi visited the facility, on jail delivery services.
One of them, 31 year old, Chukwujekwu Ifejika was discharged by Justice Peter Umeadi for lack of criminal records of the accused.
Ruling on the case, Justice Umeadi said that the prisoner should be discharged because the police did not file any case against him, for the crime he was being accused of, adding that the suspect had been in prison custody for seven years without being charged to court.
He said, “If the accused was convicted for the crime he was accused of, he would have served 7 years in prison and he has already spent seven years here. So, he should be discharged.”
In an interview with journalists after his discharge, Ifejika who was visibly happy to return to normal life regretted that he lost his parents while he was incarcerated
He explained that his incarceration was borne out of not having anyone to speak for him hence, the reason he has been in prison for seven years without going to court.
His words: “I thank God above all things for my freedom today. I don’t have anybody to speak for me and I lost my father and mother while I was in the prison. I am going back home to meet relations to tell them my story”.
“My incarceration has opened doors for me to learn a lot of hand craft like painting, carpentry and tailoring. I am happy if not for anythong, I am going home with this knowledge. I was among the prisoners that painted some part of the prison.”
He however regretted the lackadaisical attitude of prison officers when it comes to prisoner’s going to court saying that most times, the prison officials will claim there is no vehicle or fuel to take prisoners to Court.
“Such experience pains inmates because once you miss court date, it would take a long time to get another opportunity”, Ifejika added.
Another released detainee, Chiotu Eluemuno, 32 was granted bail by the Chief Judge with a bail to the sum of N50,000 with a surety which must be his mother
In his ruling, Justice Umeadi expressed displeasure over the loss of case file of the accused at the office of the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP and therefore ordered that the accused be granted bail.
During the prison visit, the Chief Judge examined 22 cases, in what could be described as summary trial, leading to the discharge of 3 persons, while 10 others got bail, with varying bail conditions.