An 80-year-old woman standing trial over a land case and 148 other inmates awaiting trial at the Warri Correctional Centre, Delta State have been released.
The Chief Judge of Delta State, Hon. Justice Marshal Umukoro gave the directive on the immediate release of the 149 out of the 786 awaiting trial inmates at the centre.
Justice Umukoro granted bail to six others including the 80-year-old woman standing trial in a land case before a magistrate Court at Otu-Jeremi in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state.
The Chief Judge gave the order in the process of his two-day working visit to the Warri Correctional Centre where he took particular notice of the congestion of the centre amid the COVID-19 scourge in the state.
Those who also benefitted from the Chief Judge’s magnanimity included awaiting-trial inmates who had spent over five years in the correctional service custody charged with conspiracy, stealing, illegal dealing in petroleum products as well as belonging to an unlawful society, among others.
One of the inmates, Oghenemine Peter, who has been in custody since March 2020 for alleged theft of N5,500 broke into tears of joy when he was released on compassionate ground, having shown remorse.
While expressing grave concerns over the congestion in the Warri Correctional Centre, Justice Umukoro lamented that the facility was originally designed for 307 inmates in 1916.
He, therefore, called for the expansion of the facility, insisting “No accommodation block has been added to the structure ever since.”
The chief judge itemized other reasons for congestion to include legal impediments to justice dispensation, poverty, relocation of witnesses, a paucity of vehicles and other logistics and heavy daily workload on the magistrates, among others.
Earlier, the Director of the Warri Correctional Centre, Mr Solomon Airiohuodion, had intimated the Chief Judge of the delay in dispensation of justice on minor offenders.
He urged the state government to assist in decongesting the condemned convicts’ section of the Warri Custodial Centre.
He disclosed that a total of 256 condemned convicts are being kept in the centre at present and are unfortunately made to cohabit with inmates of minor offences because of congestion.
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