Lagos Chief Judge, Justice Ayotunde Philips, yesterday released 136 inmates from Kirikiri Prisons, Lagos, majority of who were awaiting trials.
Among the 136 inmates released was a couple who had been in prison since 2011 where the wife gave birth to a son who is a year old.
The wife, Comfort Ude, 32 and her husband, Bassey Ude, 35, were released from the Female Maximum Security Prison and the Medium Kirikiri Prison.
Comfort who was first released brought to the notice of the Chief Judge the plight of her husband who was arrested for the same offence.
Comfort who was a house help in Magodo area of Lagos, said she stole a jewelry from her employer, adding that she could not sayhow much it cost but her husband was arrested alongside her.
Comfort’s husband, Bassey, who claimed to be a caterer and steward said the incident happened on March 5, 2011, when his wife stole the jewelry from her employer and showed it to him.
According to him, his wife actually stole the jewelry but he was arrested along with her on March 15 and they were both brought to the prison 15 days after, adding that while they were there, the wife gave birth to their son whom he used to see in court only when their case came up for mention.
Ude who was filled with joy said he would go back to his employer, but that if he rejects him, he would ask for payment for the job he did.
CJ charged released inmates to ‘go and sin no more’
The Chief Judge, who was accompanied by senior members of the judiciary including judges and the Chief Registrar, released nine inmates from the Kirikiri Female Maximum Security Prison and 127 from the Medium Security Prison.
Earlier, 40 inmates in the medium prison had been released while 80 others were release yesterday, adding up to the 127 inmates.
Said: “We have gone through the list of those recommended for release. So for those of you qualified to be released, you are very lucky that your name has come up. Go and sin no more.”
She urged them to turn a new leaf and go out to contribute their quota to the society, adding that she will do her best to de-congest the prisons.
Some suffer from HIV, tuberculosis, hypertension — Dep Controller
Meantime, the Deputy Comptroller of the Female Maximum Prisons, Mrs Leticia Isioma Onwile, in her welcome address said it was the first time a Chief Judge would be visiting the female prisons in Nigeria.
She said they had 207 inmates with 36 of them convicted while169 were awaiting trial. Sixty were condemned.
Onwile said the three cells were over-crowded with each accommodating 44 inmates.
According to her, some of the inmates that were released were suffering from various sicknesses like HIV, tuberculosis, hypertension and others, adding that in the past two weeks a particular inmate, Gloria Okon, had been in and out of the hospital.
She said some of the inmates that were released yesterday had spent nine years behind bars. She also said there were four pregnant women and nine babies in the prison.
The CJ after releasing the nine inmates at the female prisons, said she was very sad that there were still some of them that are awaiting trial, who are going to be left behind, but that she would look in to the matter as quickly as possible.
Prison grossly over populated — Controller
Also, the Deputy Comptroller of Prisons of the Kirikiri Medium Security Prison, Mr. Tunde Ladipo, disclosed that in his 23 years of service, yesterday was the first and only time a Chief Judge fraternized with the prison.
He said that former CJs had been unable to do so, adding that the CJ kept her words when she visited the prisons last September and promised to visit again.
According to him, there are 2,496 inmates in the prisons, 2,344 of which are awaiting trial while 152 were convicted. He said the prison had capacity to cater for only 1,700 inmates.
Ladipo who commended the CJ and the Lagos State judiciary, said there was need for her to visit the prison more often, adding that she should also consider those that have been convicted, noting: “Let this hand of fellowship also be extended to them.”
In her response, the CJ said: “To err is human, but to forgive is divine. Big men had been in prison, rich men had been in prison. I don’t think enough has been done, I will keep on doing it until I retire.”