Chief Judge of Nasarawa State, Justice Suleiman Dikko, has threatened to sanction Magistrates and Area Court Judges who unnecessarily delay criminal cases and remand accused persons indefinitely in custody.
Dikko gave the warning on Thursday at Keffi Prison at the continuation of his four-day working tour of prisons across the state.
He expressed displeasure following his discovery of some accused persons charged with minor offences who had been in prisons for over a year awaiting trial.
“How can you keep a person accused of a minor offence for over one year in prison without either convicting or releasing such a person.
“If I come for any other prison visit and still find out such cases, I will be left with no option than to release the accused for delay of justice,” he added.
Dikko attributed the delay of justice administration in the state to the action and inaction of some stakeholders in the judicial system.
He explained that prison visitations were to ensure that judicial officers rise up to their responsibility by avoiding delay in order to decongest the prisons.
According to Dikko, the purpose of the visit is to ensure that inmates wrongly sent to prison are set free in accordance with the relevant laws.
He urged the welfare department of the prisons he visited to get the phone numbers of inmates that were granted bail but were still in prison and to contact their family members.
Dikko urged the police, prisons authority and other stakeholders to rise up to their responsibilities in order to sanitise the system and ensure speedy administration of justice in the state.
He also assigned counsel to inmates awaiting trial that had stayed in remand for many years and lacked money to access legal services.
Officials of the Human Rights Commission in the state, officials of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, executives of the Nigeria Bar Association and some judges accompanied the chief judge on the visit.