Crime & Justice Updates

Enugu Chief Judge set to free prison inmates

Do you have a relation who has been languishing in any of the three prisons in Enugu State without being charged to court?

This may be an opportunity to find ways of presenting the inmate’s case to the Enugu State Chief Judge, Justice Priscilla Emehelu.

eMetro News has learnt from multiple sources that the Chief Judge is warming up to once again visit and dispense instant justice in favour of deserving long-term detainees in three federal correctional facilities in Enugu State, located in Enugu city, Nsukka and Oji River.

Our sources confirm that the visit will take place at least a week before Christmas and that the judge will most likely focus attention on two sets of detainees that are considered to be very vulnerable.

Inmates whose cases will be reviewed are likely to include those that have languished in the facilities without being formally charged to court and others who cannot afford the cost of legal representation and have been forgotten in prison.

Justice Emehelu visited the prisons, as they were then known, in July last year, where she pardoned an unprecedented 129 inmates from the three facilities.

On that occasion, she said that her powers to free various categories of inmates reside in the Nigerian Constitution as well as in Section 1 (A & B) of the Criminal Justice Provisions Act for releases from custody of detainees and prisoners.

She is a vigorous advocate of prison decongestion in Enugu State and constantly seeks ways to free those who have been recommended to her to be fully reformed and penitent.

“We judges are mindful of the onerous challenge of prison congestion and have consistently worked with stakeholders in the justice sector to ensure speedy and sustained case flow management,” she said as she released the last of the 129 prisoners from the Oji River Correctional Facility.

Among those released last year were inmates that effectively used their jail time to successfully study and pass their first and second degrees through the window offered by the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

“These ones have embraced the service change mantra imbued in them through the Prisons Special Study Centre of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) programme,” Mr. Ndubuisi Ogbodo, the Controller of Correctional Facility in Enugu, told Justice Emehelu as he presented their cases for release.

“They performed excellently well in the programme at the undergraduate and post-graduate level with outstanding results and will be easily accepted back into the society,” he said.

“It is part of the commitment to effective justice delivery that necessitates our periodic visits to prisons, to provide bail and the release of inmates who have exceeded required prison term,” Justice Emehelu said.

How to go about it

Those intending to intercede on behalf of their detained relation should urgently contact a lawyer and present the case.

There are lawyers that are willing to present a brief to the Chief Judge on a pro bono basis – without charge.

However, note that those who are already in court are usually not included among the cases that are presented to the judge for release from custody.

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