From: Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Twenty-six inmates awaiting trial at the Agbor Prison in Delta State have been released by the state Chief Judge, Justice Marshal Umukoro, who began his official visit to prisons across the state.
Ages of those released range between 19 to 30, and they regained freedom on grounds of ill health, want of diligent prosecution, inordinate long detention in prison custody and on the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution that some of the have case to answer.
Justice Umukoro, who granted the release of the inmates out of the 397 cases reviewed, stated that the exercise was not meant to throw the gates of prisons open to accused persons awaiting trial for various criminal offenses, but to ascertain the validity of their detention, ability to withstand trial and whether their cases were going on progressively.
He commended some members of the lower bench (Magistrates) for their hard work, diligence and dexterity in handling matters brought before them, but frowned at the lack of seriousness exhibited by some, saying that since they were the ones to inherit the institution of justice at the higher echelon of the judiciary.
Assistant Comptroller of Agbor Prison, E.A. Ozili, commended the state Chief Judge for performing his constitutional obligation by yearly embarking on prison visit in the state to acquaint himself with their conditions.
He appealed to the Chief Judge to direct Judges and Magistrates to give priority attention to custody cases to enable prison wardens return inmates to prison yards on time for security reasons.
Among those freed were 21-year old Hobore Philip and 22-year Ogorume Samuel who said in separate interviews that they were innocent of the charges preferred against them.
Another beneficiary was Daniel Ikpi Egu, who claimed to be a medical doctor arraigned before Obiaruku Magistrate Court II for motorcycle theft.
Egu, who hails from Cross River State, said he was inducted in 2012, and was employed by his state government, adding that in 2013 following strike embarked upon by medical doctors, he was stacked along 3,000 others, and that this informed his relocation to Port-Harcourt where he engaged in private practice.
He continued that his ordeal started when he was kidnapped and found himself in Abraka where he was arrested for motorcycle theft.
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