Lagos CJ Frees 9 Prisoners; Okays Non-Custodial Sentencing for Minor Offenders

Lagos CJ, Hon Justice O. O. Oke

The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke, freed nine prisoners on Thursday and directed magistrates in the state to deploy non-custodial sentencing for minor offenders in order to decongest the prisons.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that five inmates out of the 25 shortlisted were released from Medium Security Prisons.

This included one Saidi Raimi from Kwara State who was released to a mental home.

Four out of 10 others shortlisted, were released from the Maximum Security Prisons, Kirikiri, having been in custody for between eight and  11 years.

They were said to have stayed longer in custody than the number of years they would have spent if sentenced by the court for offences, they were accused of committing.

The Chief Judge told the released inmates to, henceforth, be of good behaviour and stay away from crime.

She advised them to desist from any act that would bring them back to prison.

“Pursuant to the provisions of Sections 1(1) of the Criminal Justice (Release from Custody) Act, 2007 as well as Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution, you are hereby released from custody today, December 6, 2018.

“I want you to henceforth,  be of good behaviour. Make sure you don’t breach any law again. Go out there and sin no more”, she admonished them.

Although 10 women were shortlisted from the female section for release, she regretted that none qualified for release.

She said that their trials had commenced and are at present on bail.

One of them, Uche Emeasoba, however, had her bail conditions reduced from N1million to N500,000 and the sureties reduced to one.

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Justice Oke explained that those granted amnesty were qualified for release after a thorough review of their case files.

She also said the Chief Registrar had been directed to issue a circular immediately on her instruction to the magistrate courts.

“All magistrates would, henceforth, be monitored to ensure compliance with the directive,” she said.

Oke also said that the state government was contemplating the establishment of restorative justice centres in the state.

“All simple cases need not go to police. The restorative justice centre is a mediation centre.

“If there is an agreement and the guilty one can pay for a missing tooth, why go to court? This is a way of decongesting the prisons,” she said.



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