By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The Presidential Committee on Correctional Services Reform and Decongestion, led by Chief Judge of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello has released a total of 19 inmates from the Kuje Correctional Centre.
The prerogative of mercy granted to the inmates was part of the jail delivery measures adopted by the presidential committee aimed at decongesting custodial centres.
Speaking at the weekend, when he led members of the presidential committee,magistrates, prosecuting lawyers and other stakeholders to the Kuje Correctional centre, Justice Bello said the exercise was in accordance with provisions of the Correctional Services Act.
“Today’s visit to Kuje Correctional Service is in furtherance ofthe Federal Government’s efforts to decongest detention centres across the country.
“This becomes more imperative with the coming into force of the new Nigerian Correctional Service Act.
“This exercise is purely borne out of the desire of criminal justice stakeholders to find ways of decongesting detention facilities across the country by inquiring into cases of inmates with a view to letting go those who have no reasons to stay in such facilities” Justice Bello said.
He therefore called on all the critical stakeholders in the criminal justice sector to collaborate in carrying out the mandate of decongesting detention centres in Nigeria.
“It is a world of interdependence; all stakeholders must depend on each other for smooth adjudications. Anyone who fails to execute his or her mandate, it rubs off on other stakeholders negatively.
“Consequently, I urge us all to take our duties seriously for this is a national assignment that must succeed” Bello added.
High point of the visit was the release of 19 inmates by the committee.
Justice Bello emphasised that the released inmates will have a permanent data bass, record and photographs which will help to trace and get them anytime should they misbehave again.
However, he urged security operatives to be civil in the discharge of their duties by ensuring that suspects are not detained beyond the statutory period as prescribed by the law.
At the Kuje custodial centre (prison), Daily Independent observed that the facility has a capacity of 560 inmates but presently holds 967 inmates.
Those awaiting trial are 822 in number while convicts are 145.
A breakdown of the convict category shows that 83 are on long term list,25 on short term list, lifer are 15, condemn convicts 21, while there is only one foreigner.
The facility holds 363 for armed robbery, 183 for culpable homicide,drugs 56, terrorism 31, Book Haram 113, ATM foreigners 4, and others 72.