The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke Wednesday granted freedom to 19 inmates of Ikoyi Prisons.
The released inmates have been awaiting trial for between three to five years.
Justice Oke also disclosed plans by the state judiciary to review the fines and sentencing guidelines of suspects convicted in minor offences.
Amongst those who breathed the air of freedom Wednesday is one Damilola Joseph, a final year Computer Science student of University of Lagos who was charged for stealing but has remained in prison custody since 2016 following his inability to perfect his N250, 000 bail conditions.
The Chief Judge told the released inmates to henceforth be of good behaviour and 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, February 21, 2018.
“I want you to henceforth be of good behaviour. Make sure you don’t breach any law again. You have to determine within yourself to be a law abiding citizen and go out there and sin no more”, she admonished the released inmates.
Reacting to complaints by some inmates of the prison who have been unable to pay fine imposed on them in place of imprisonment and stiff bail conditions, Justice Oke said that the state judiciary is aware of the challenges faced by such inmates and is working towards addressing it.
“We have heard your complaints and you can be rest assured that we are working towards addressing them.
“By next week, we are having a meeting with magistrates to address some of these issues including bail conditions.
“Thereafter, I will be signing a new policy regarding fines and sentencing guideline on cases before our courts,” she said.
Earlier in his welcome address, Deputy Comptroller of Prisons in charge of Ikoyi Prisons, Ogunsakin Tolu expressed appreciation to the Chief Judge for her commitment to the release of deserving inmates.
Ogunsakin however appealed to the Chief Judge to assist the prison authorities in its decongestion effort by accelerating trial and adopting community service for minor offences.
“Your lordship, I am appealing to you on passionate ground to help us in the area of acceleration of trial, and dispensation of justice especially where minor offence can be given a community service as punishment for such offenders.
“I also appeal for the introduction of parole as it is being done in some countries and the issue of amnesty by the state governor in order to reduce the overcrowding in our prisons,” he pleaded.
According DCP Ogunsakin, Ikoyi Prison built in 1955 with a lockup capacity of 800 inmates presently have 2752 inmates made up of 2261 awaiting trial inmates and 491 convicted inmates.