Rivers Chief Judge grants pardon to 37 inmates awaiting trial
The Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Chibuzor-Amadi has granted pardon to thirty-seven inmates who have been on awaiting trial at the Port Harcourt Correctional Center for five years and above without proper prosecution.
Justice Chibuzor-Amadi in his speech during the jail delivery exercise at the Port Harcourt Correctional facility, blamed the activities of the operatives of Nigerian Police on the high level of congestion experienced in Port Harcourt Nigerian Correctional Center.
The Chief Judge however accused the police of preferring frivolous charges and deliberately charging inmates to the court that has no jurisdiction without proper investigation on the matter, advising the Men of Nigerian Police to always search their conscience by ensuring proper investigation on a matter before charging the suspects.
The Chief Judge, while calling on all those involved in the administration of justice to collaborate to ensure the decongestion of prison, used the opportunity to direct judges handling any criminal matter including rape, cultism, kidnapping, and armed robbery to ensure the conclusion of such matter as enshrined in the new High Court procedure rules, just as he pleaded with the ministry of justice to focus on the direction.
“I am here to carry out a statutory function. And that function is, by section 34 subsection 1 of the administration of the criminal justice law of Rivers State which empowers the chief judge to visit the correctional centre to find out the number of inmates, how long they have stayed, know those who should be released and those who should not. That is why we are here.
“I have also laid out a practical direction to magistrates if very well followed in a criminal trial, the number of persons, suspects, and defendants that are sent here will be minimized.
“I gave practice direction on Monday to the High Court concerning criminal cases, financial crimes, rape Murder, and Kidnapping which makes it mandatory that a judge handling any of these matters whether you are transferred outside Port Harcourt or not will always come back to conclude the matter. If you are handling any of these cases stated and you are transferred out of Bori, that practice direction required that you will be going back to Bori to conclude the matter.”
Justice Chibuzor-Amadi, while revealing that Port Harcourt Correctional Center has the high inmates in West Africa, assured that the judiciary under his watch will continue to ensure decongestion of the facility, sighting section thirty-four, sub-section one of the administration of justice law which empowers him to carry out the exercise.
He said: “What informed me to do that is my predecessor in office obliged me to attend workshops hosted by International Redcross twice, and in those Conferences, I felt embarrassed when we were told that in the entire West African Subregion, Port Harcourt correctional centre has the highest number of inmates.
“And you know the type of message that sends to the whole world. In other words, in Port Harcourt, we have the highest number of criminals in Nigeria because the correctional centre is not meant for those who are law-abiding but for those who are not law-abiding.”
“So on my assumption of office, I said I was going to work to see that there is a reduction in the inmate in this centre and I can see that we have been doing it.”
The Chief Judge however advised the released inmates to be better citizens are they return to society and never exhibit character that will bring them back to prison.
However, the state comptroller of Nigerian Correctional Center, Alex Oditah, commended the state judiciary for their continuous effort which he said is aimed at decongesting the facilities.