Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, on Wednesday, December 13, 2023, pardoned 10 inmates awaiting trials at Correctional Centres in the State.
Justice Obot during a facility tour of the Centres freed six inmates from Eket and four from Ikot Abasi custodial centres, having found that they had already spent years in custody for alleged minor offences without being charged to court.
The Chief Judge while freeing the inmates unconditionally charged them to be of good behaviour and avoid anything that would bring them back to the correctional service.
She also expressed disaffection with the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the Police for keeping inmates for up to two to three years without charging them to court.
She also warned that it was wrong to keep defilement cases for a long time without charging the suspects to court as it would compel the victim to undergo emotional and psychological trauma the second time while testifying in court or forget some details in the case minors.
In all the freed cases, the Chief Judge held, “It is glaring that your case file has disappeared and the prosecutor has not given any reason why you should remain in custody. Having stayed for years in custody without charges, we have nothing to hold against you, we hereby have you released unconditionally, go home and be of good behaviour.”
Justice Obot advised the Head of Corrections, Ikot Abasi to always bring the inmates to court and warned the police to always respect human rights and avoid keeping suspects in custody without charging them to court.
The four beneficiaries from Ikot Abasi custodial centre include: Kingsley Udoma, a 20-year-old man who had spent five months in custody, Uboho Daniel spent two years, for being in possession of Indian hemp, Samuel Friday and Emmanuel Ekanem spent One year and six months without charges.
The six beneficiaries from the Eket custodial centre include; Esther Christopher, Ime Udo, Udeme Peter, Kelly Ubokudom, Larry Patrick and Victor Samuel, who had been in the custodial centre for two to three years without any case file to charge them to court.
Earlier in his remarks, the Controller, Nigeria Correctional Service, Akwa Ibom Command, Mr Julius Ezugwu, thanked the chief judge for the visit, adding that the visit would go a long way to give succour to the inmates even as he noted that the previous visit of the CJ helped in the decongestion of the centre.
“I thank the Honourable Chief Judge for your support to the Center and for painstakingly going through awaiting trial matters and stalled cases which have tremendously reduced the inmate population. The toiletries and medicals will go a long way to help the inmates.”
The Head of Eket Correctional Centre, Clement Enang, said the custodial centre can hold for 123 inmates but currently has 268 inmates. Enang said that the facility had been overstretched and had challenges of inadequate water supply and poor electricity at the centre
He thanked the chief judge for the facility tour of the centre despite her tight schedule to ascertain the condition of the centre and the welfare of inmates