The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, on Tuesday, freed 18 awaiting-trial inmates of the Kirikiri Medium Security Custodial Centre.
Justice Alogba, who pardoned the inmates at an open court session held on the premises of the Lagos State Magistrates’ Court in Igbosere, Lagos Island, said the gesture was in line with the efforts by the Federal Government to decongest the prisons as part of strategies to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“l granted the pardon to the inmates pursuant to Section 1 (1) of the Criminal Justice Release from Custody Special Provision Act, 2007”, he said.
The Chief Judge advised the pardoned inmates against returning to crime, stressing that with the creation of a database comprising details and fingerprints of criminals stored by the Lagos State government, harsher punishment awaits anyone caught committing a crime after pardon or release.
“Don’t think that if you go back and breach the law, we won’t know; we will know because in Lagos State we now have a database and fingerprints of criminals. If you are caught again for any crime, your punishment will be severe”, Justice Alogba warned.
The Judge submitted that the selection of the pardoned inmates followed due diligence because, from past experience, inmates who were undeserving of pardon had been inadvertently released.
The Controller of the Lagos Command of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Samuel Iyakoregha, thanked the CJ for the gesture, noting that the amnesty exercise was moved from the correctional facility to the court premises because of the bad state of the road leading to the facility in the Apapa area of Lagos.
Lamenting that inmates, who were taken out for court hearings often returned late to the custodial facility due to the poor state of the road, Iyakoregha, therefore, appealed to the Chief Judge to direct that criminal cases should be heard early in the day.