Oyo ACJL monitoring committee charts new course for prison decongestion

The Oyo State Administration of Criminal Justice  Monitoring Committee, led by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Munta Abimbola, on Friday, met to chart a new course in the operation of prison decongestion, in order to address salient issues that arise from the exercise of the statutory power of release.

The meeting which focused primarily on creating new approach to prison decongestion is a prelude to the upcoming decongestion of prisons within the state by the committee, was held at the Conference Room of the State High Court of Justice, Ringroad, Ibadan.

The meeting was held to address salient issues against the backdrop of rising incidents of insecurity and concerns by the public that criminals are released into the society during prison decongestion exercises against the background of rising insecurity and concerns by members of the public that criminals are released into the society during prison decongestion.

Justice Abimbola stated that there is a need to agree on a holistic approach to the exercise of the statutory duties of the committee as provided by law to guide the upcoming exercise so that people that do not deserve pardon will not be released to cause trouble in the society especially during the Yuletide season.

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The Chief Judge emphasised that the committee and the judiciary as a whole is particular about speedy administration of justice by offering proactive approaches as well as practical modalities for the use of Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Oyo State for the purpose of making the law more explicit for all stakeholders and ensuring the decongestion of prisons across the state.

He, however, added that though the committee wants to ensure the implement the provisions of the ACJL to reduce overpopulation in prisons and ensure no one suffers unduly, justice must be manifestly served and this indicates that people would not just be released into the society without consideration for protection of the society and the people as a whole.

“There is a need for paradigm shift especially at this time that experience has shown that there is always increase in crime. We cannot afford to just release hardened criminals into the society; this is our responsibility. So we must be careful about releasing people with capital offences except on critical health grounds.

“Visits to correctional homes is not a frivolous act but an action guided by law and a statutory role that must be performed. For criminal justice to be effective; there is a need for synergy and collaboration by stakeholders as is being done by the monitoring committee. Such collaboration and working together by all stakeholders is not a compromise of the justice system but a means for the system to work in the interest of peace and the good of the society at large.

“This system focuses not only on speedy dispensation of justice but also for the protection of both victim and suspect as well as protection of the society from crime and entrenchment of restorative justice. And because we are accused of releasing criminals into the society, which is quite painful, there is a need to apply a different approach,” Justice Abimbola stated.

The committee decided to look into other modes which include Adhoc criminal courts to give summary trial on minor criminal offences from time to time, introduction of license verification officers to speed up bail process and eliminate issues of fake verification and documentation, building magistrate courts near correctional homes, ensuring people that would be released on parole have homes to aid integration, fast tracking trial process collaborate with federal courts to resolve issues of jurisdiction and ensure correctional homes have facilities that will aid rehabilitation among others.

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