The Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Munta Abimbola, in furtherance of the exercise of his power of release from prison custody as provided by the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) 2016, Oyo State of Nigeria, on Tuesday, freed 51 inmates from the Agodi Prison in Ibadan.
The exercise is the commencement of a two-day exercise aimed at decongesting the already overstretched prison facility and ensure that justice is seen to have been manifestly done.
Speaking during the exercise, Justice Abimbola stated that there is no argument that there is congestion in the prison considering the figures of awaiting trial inmates.
He explained that the difference in the people involved in the exercise this year is due to the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2016 which repealed the Criminal Procedure Law of the state, adding that the law gave the responsibility to the ACJL Monitoring Committee.
“The conclusion is that there is congestion in the prison and that is why we are here. The administration of criminal justice provides for decongestion of prison as a statutory responsibility. We have a statutory duty under the constitution to frequently decongest the prison.
He added that “specifically Administration of Criminal Justice Law provides for effective management of the Criminal Justice Institutions (System); speedy and expeditious determination of Criminal cases; decongestion of prisons and ensuring synergy and cooperation amongst all the sectors in the administration of criminal justice in the state.”
The monitoring committee has Sub Committees which include Decongestion of Prison Committee headed by Justice Abimbola who explained that the exercise is to ensure timeliness in prosecution of matters, adding that “we are not here to release unduly those that are not worthy of release but to satisfy the provisions of the law for speedy dispensation of trial.
“The exercise is for those unlawfully arrested or have stayed behind bars longer than the period they should have stayed if convicted; those whose trial has been unduly delayed or those whose condition requires being shown mercy in line with the provision of the law,” Justice Abimbola stated.
The Agodi prison was designed to accommodate 290 inmates but at the time of the exercise, the prison had an open house of 1226 inmates consisting of 1041 awaiting trial inmates; 1030 male and 11 females.
The list for consideration had 205 names out of which 51 were released unconditionally for unreasonable delay in their trial, being underage and on compassionate grounds for health issues.
Some inmates that do not have legal representation were given pro bono lawyers to allow them to commence their trial while all freed housemates were given transport fare back to their various homes.
Speaking at the exercise, the Comptroller of Prison in Oyo state, Tosin Akinrojumu, stated that it gives the prison authority joy to have the prerogative of the CJ’s pardon of inmates as the prison was already overstretched and they are only trying to maintain law and order as well as prevent an epidemic outbreak.