The Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Ayotunde Phillips on Tuesday granted freedom to 233 prisoners, most of who have been awaiting trials for upwards of twelve years as part of the activities marking the beginning of a new Legal Year in the state.130 inmates were released from prison custody at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison while another 103 from the Kirikiri Medium Security Prison.
Justice Phillips who ordered their release during a visit to the Kirikiri prison said that the exercise was “in pursuant of the powers conferred on her under Section 1 (1) of the Criminal Justice Release from Custody Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2007″ and as part of the activities marking the 2012/2013 Legal Year.
She said ” there is a saying in the legal circle that it is better for 10 guilty persons to be free than for one innocent person to be incarcerated.
“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. So, go and sin no more”.
Justice Phillips counselled all those who regained freedom on Tuesday to turn a new leaf and go out to contribute their quota to the society.
She recalled that during her swearing in ceremony, she made a promise to decongest the prisons.
Towards this end, she promised that prison visits would not be confined to Legal year activity alone during her tenure.
She said that she intend to pay more regular visit to the prisons during her tenure than what obtained during the previous administrations.
Justice Phillips who noted that there has been a lot of human cry about prison congestion said that all those who qualified under the new criminal administration law would be granted freedom.
Welcoming the Chief Judge, the Deputy Comptroller of the Kirikiri Maximum Prison, Olu Tinuoye said that it is very unusual for chief judges of Lagos state to visit the prisons.
“By this visit, a lot of them expect freedom. It is a matter of regret that Judges in the state have not being visiting the prison regularly. This is why their expectation is very high” he said.
Mr Tinuoye said a lot of the inmates awaiting trials have not found life easy behind the bars especially because they are in custody for petty offences.
His counterpart at the Medium Security Prison, Tunde Ladipo commended the efforts of the Lagos state government for taking care of the prisons.
Mr Ladipo however pleaded with government for the release of more awaiting trials in order to reduce the congestion in the prison.