Prison controller urges judges to sit early


The Deputy Controller of Prisons in charge of Kirikiri Medium Prison, Rev. Freedman Ben-Rabbi, says the prison is experiencing increasing difficulty in the transportation of inmates to court for their trial as a result of the intractable gridlock in the Apapa area of Lagos State.
Ben-Rabbi appealed to the government to address the problem, adding that judges should also sit on time, so that the inmates could have their trial early and be taken back to the prison on time.
The deputy prison controller made this appeal last week while welcoming the Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Opeyemi Oke, who was in the prison to grant amnesty to some awaiting-trial inmates who had stayed for too long in the prison.
He also expressed the concern that the activities of the Lagos State Task Force were compounding the problem of prison congestion, and urged that the courts give more attention to the use of non-custodial sentencing.
“The traffic situation is challenging. The court should sit on time so that inmates can come back on time.
“Also, the task force contribute to prison congestion. It is worrisome. There is a need to explore other forms of sentencing,” Ben-Rabbi said.
Responding to him, the CJ said the traffic situation was not within the control of the judiciary; she, however, pledged to immediately issue a circular, directing magistrates in the state to make more use of non-custodial sentencing for minor offenders.
In answer to Ben-Rabbi’s plea for the provision of court cells in Isolo and Ejigbo magistrates’ courts, Justice Oke said she would make necessary recommendations to the state government, pledging that the projects would be prioritised.
She explained that the essence of the prison visit was to review the cases of inmates who had stayed for too long in the prison and release those deserving of amnesty.
In all, Justice Oke granted amnesty to a total of 10 inmates in both Kirikiri Medium and Maximum Prisons.
She charged them to “go and sin no more”.
However, none of the inmates in the female prison was released by the CJ, who regretted that none qualified for amnesty.
She, however, relaxed the bail of N1m with two sureties given to a female inmate, Uche Emeasoba, to N500,000 with one surety.