Akpan Umoh, Uyo
The Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, has set free 45 inmates across the state during her facilities tour of the correctional centres.
Obot, however, sought for the relocation of Eket Correctional Centre to decongest the centre for better management of inmates.
The chief judge said this while briefing newsmen in Uyo on Friday after a-3 day facilities tour of correctional centres in the state.
Our correspondent reports that during the tour, the chief judge visited Ikot Abasi, Eket, Ikot Ekpene, and Uyo correctional centres.
During the visit, three inmates were pardoned from Ikot Abasi, nine were discharged and acquitted in Eket, 11 inmates were freed from Ikot Ekpene and 22 inmates were released from Uyo correctional centres.
Obot said that some of the freed inmates had spent more years in prison than the penalty for the offences they were charged with, while some had been in the custodial centres for four to five years without being charged.
She urged the freed inmates to go and turn a new leaf and engage themselves in useful ventures and stay away from crimes as they might not be lucky to have another chance.
She assessed Ikot Abasi facility as good enough in the state while Eket facilty was adjudged as the worst with a capacity of 123 but was currently having 300 inmates.
“As I said at the beginning, Ikot Abasi was okay, and the capacity was not fully utilised. So, it was more organised than every other facility apart from Ikot Ekpene. Ikot Ekpene is the best facility we have in the state.
“Eket is the worst of all, it is limited in space and the number is overwhelming and they are not able to cater for the inmates there.
“I have suggested that the Custodial Centre’s authority in Abuja should negotiate with the governor of the state and even the community for a good space to relocate that facility for better management of the inmates,” she said.
She expressed concern about the ability of the Police and Director of Public Prosecution in the state to keep inmates in custodial centres without trial and some no case for years.
The chief judge called on the police officer in charge of legal matters and director of public prosecutuon to ensure diligence in prosecution to avoid the destruction of justice delivery system.
She warned the police against unnecessary arresting of innocent persons into custodial centre without thorough investigation and charging them to court, stressing that it was a breach of thier constitutional rights.