By Okon Bassey in Uyo
At least 19 inmates awaiting trial for various civil offences in Uyo prison, Akwa Ibom State, have regained their freedom following a special intervention by the Deputy Chief Whip of the state House of Assembly, Otuekong Nse Essien.
The freed inmates were to pay various fines as punishment for their crimes, but had to be confined to the prison walls as there was nobody to assist them in the payment.
Essien, representing Onna State Constituency, said the decision to intervene was in line with the spirit of the yuletide, asking the prisoners to “go and sin no more.”
According to the lawmaker, the gesture became necessary in order to “help the 19 youths to make meaning out of their lives.”
Essien, who had demonstrated similar gesture to five inmates last year, called on those still in prison to turn a new leaf and pray for God’s benevolence for their freedom to also come some day.
The lawmaker recently conferred with the traditional title of Obong Unwana (the shining light) of his Ikot Akpan Nko community, for his philanthropic gestures, said he would continue to show love to the less privileged in the society.
He stressed the need for reforms that would make prisons to be centres for character molding, instead of “a place where people go with the mindset of punishment.”
He added: “Prisons should be seen as reform centres instead of a place where culprits go to become hardened criminals and cultists.”