By Alex Enumah
Nineteen inmates of the Kuje Correctional Centre over the weekend regained freedom, following the visit of the Presidential Committee on Correctional Services Reform and Decongestion.
The Chairman of the committee and Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Ishaq Bello, said that the prerogative of mercy granted to the inmates was part of the jail delivery measures adopted by the presidential committee to decongest custodial centres across the country.
Speaking when he led members of the presidential committee, magistrates and other stakeholders to the Kuje Correctional centre, Justice Bello said: “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 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.
The CJ emphasised that the released inmates will have a permanent data bass, record and photographs which will help to trace and get them any time 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.
The Kuje Custodial Centre (prison) is said to have a capacity of 560 inmates but presently holds 967 inmates.
Those awaiting trial are 822, while convicts are 145.
A breakdown of the convict category showed 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, 56 for drugs offences, terrorism 31, Book Haram 113, ATM foreigners four and others 72.