Chief Judge releases 16-year-old murder suspect, 99 others in Oyo

By Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko, Ibadan

Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Munta Abimbola, released 100 inmates of the Agodi Correctional Centre Ibadan, on Monday and Tuesday.

One of them is a 16-year-old boy (juvenile) charged with alleged murder.

Justice Abimbola said the boy is underage and could be more hardened if he continued to stay in prison.

He added that the boy’s mother had undertaken to take him back for rehabilitation while he (Justice Abimbola) would monitor him.

Justice Abimbola released the first batch of 58 inmates on Monday and released the second batch of 42 inmates on Tuesday.

The releases were on the recommendations of the Oyo State Monitoring Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, led by him.

He said the committee considered cases and lists of inmates brought by the Correctional Centre, by NGOs and by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ibadan on prerogative of mercy.

He explained that age, health challenges and prolonged detention were the three major criteria considered in releasing the beneficiaries.

He noted that the exercise was also in tune with his power of release and prerogative of mercy to aid prison decongestion.

The chief judge expressed consternation at the number of awaiting-trial-persons and called on lawyers to live up to their responsibility of protecting the rights of citizens.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that nine of those released were charged for #ENDSARS protests of 2020; some for alleged theft and rape.

While releasing those in detention over #ENDSARS protests, Justice Abimbola declared that an end had come to #ENDSARS cases in the state.

The chief judge observed that justice is tripartite: justice for the defendant, justice for the victim and justice for the society.

Earlier, the Comptroller of Prisons at the centre, Mr Sunday Ogundipe described the exercise as historic for him being his first experience.

He thanked the chief judge and his team for meeting the need to decongest the prison.

He added that the Agodi Correctional Centre has capacity to hold only 339 inmates, but had not less than 1,109 inmates.

NBA Ibadan Chairman, Mrs Folasade Aladeniyi remarked that the issue of prison decongestion was of utmost importance to stakeholders.

Aladeniyi commended Justice Abimbola and the team, noting that the exercise was a step in the right direction where people deserving of mercy were duly considered.

Justice Ladiran Akintola of Oyo State High Court admonished those released not to truncate the mercy they received by going back to crime.

The three-day exercise ends on Wednesday at the Abolongo Correctional Centre, Oyo. (NAN)

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