Freedom came the way of 66 prison inmates serving jail terms for their inability to pay fines, as the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prisons Reforms and Decongestion under the chairmanship of the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Ishiaq Bello, released them following payment of fines imposed on them by the Lagos State government.
Their fines were settled by the Attorney General of the Federation, Malami Abubakar and some civil society organisations. The freed inmates, whose ages ranged from 18 to 63 years, were released based on health status from Kirikiri Medium Security Prison, the Female Prison also in Kirikiri and Badagry Prison.
At the Medium Security Prison, 37 inmates freed included one Okafor, who was serving a jail term for stealing a bag of salt but is suffering from a hernia and has a big cancerous lump on his left buttocks.
Others on the prison visit included the Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Opeyemi Oke; Attorney General (AG), Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, Director, Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey, Justice Adenike Coker, Justice Omobolanle Okikiolu-Ighile, representative of the Federal Attorney General (AGF), Mr. Pius Oteh; Assistant Comptroller General of Prisons, Mr. G. Abubakar, and Lagos State Controller of Prisons, Mr Tunde Ladipo, among others.
Six prison inmates in Kirikiri Maximum Prison whose imprisonment carried options of fine were not released as Justice Bello said his committee decided against the gesture because they found out they were jailed for dealing in hard drugs. “We believe that those who deal in hard drug should not be sent back into the society. We have decided they should serve their full sentence.”
Justice Bello said the committee’s visit was not only to decongest the prisons but to also look at the conditions under which the inmates live.
Source: The Guardian