Lagos CJ Frees another 62 Minor Inmates, Others from Kirikiri Prison

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Akinwale Akintunde
The efforts to address the problem of underage inmates in the Nigerian Prisons continued Monday, as the Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Oluwafunmilayo Atilade, freed another set of 62 underage inmates from both Kirikiri Female and Medium Prisons.
Justice Atilade had on August 1, 2017, freed 80 underage inmates from the Badagry Prison on the petition of Mrs. Olubanwo.

The total of 129 inmates were pardoned and freed during yesterday’s visit, out of which 13 were underage female inmates from Kirikiri Female Prison and 49 underage males from Medium Prison.
Also freed from Kirikiri Medium Prison were 67 physically challenged inmates, comprising those convicted and awaiting trial.

Justice Atilade said the amnesty granted the inmates was in line with statutory duty to protect the Child Rights and also ensure that the prisons nationwide were not congested.
She admonished the pardoned inmates to make the best of the amnesty by not returning to criminal activities.

The state Chief Judge was accompanied on the visit by senior judges from the state high court, including head of Decongestion Committee, Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye; head of the Family Court Division, Justice Yetunde idowu; officials of the Lagos Ministry of Justice, Office Public Defendant (OPD), members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), members of African Women Lawyers Association and other various non-governmental organisations
While setting the inmates free, the Chief Judge admonished them to be of good behaviour and to “go and sin no more.”

According to her, “I pronounce, pursuant to the provisions of Sections 1(1) of the Criminal Justice (Release from Custody) Act, 2007 as well as Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution, you are all hereby released from custody.”

Justice Atilade thanked various stakeholders that have worked tirelessly to ensure the freedom of the inmates, especially Mrs. Modupe Olubanwo of the Fountain of Life Church Legal Team, whose petition had initiated the emergency prison visit to Kirikiri just like that of Badagry Prison.

She further solicited the support of all relevant stakeholders in the justice system in the effort to decongest the prisons.

Speaking at the Kirikiri Female Prison, Justice Idowu said it does not give the state and the Judiciary any pleasure to visit children in adults prisons, therefore, urged them not to commit any offence that will bring them back to prison.
Justice Ipaye also said: “It’s a sad situation that we have children in the prison. I understand that children break the law as well as adult, however, we should deal with children with a lighter hand.

“You children are the future leaders; children from zero to 16 years should be in school, if you can’t go to school, learn a trade. What is important is that we do not want to see you here again.”

In his remark, the Deputy Comptroller in charge of the Kirikiri Medium Prison, Emmanuel Oluwaniyi, thanked the Chief Judge for the amnesty gesture.

“We thank you ma for the mother we have found in you. This is the second time you are coming here. The first time you released 64 inmates, this time, we are hoping over 100 will be released. The release of inmates has doused the pressure we have had in the prison,” Oluwaniyi said.