The Comptroller of Enugu Maximum Security Prison, Mr. Alloy Uchenwa, has decried the pitiable state of the Enugu prisons. According to him, the prison which was built in 1915 to house 638 inmates, now houses about 1,800 inmates.
Mr.Uchenwa disclosed this on Monday while receiving the Enugu State Chief Judge, Innocent Umezulike, who visited the prison on a de-congestion mission. He said as a result of this problem, the underage inmates are kept with much older and hardened criminals.
The Comptroller who believed the chief judge’s mission would contribute to de-congesting the three prisons in Enugu, Oji-River and Nsukka, also called on the government, NGOs, and well-meaning Nigerians, to re-activate the Institution for Juveniles at Hill-top, Ngwo.
The chief judge who spoke during his visit to the prison explained that the exercise which is done annually is aimed at ensuring that criminal cases were not over delayed and to release cases not qualified to be in court.
“Our mission is to ensure that those who have overstayed are released and we shall try our best to meet the demand”.
He said the exercise would also be carried out in Nsukka and Oji-River prisons respectively and urged lawyers to ensure that it was orderly, smooth and peaceful.
During his visit, an inmate named Sunday Ezulue, convicted for killing his brother accidentally and has been awaiting trial for five years was released.
The Kaduna State Chief Judge, Tanimu Zailani, last week released 56 inmates from the Kaduna Central prison as part of efforts to decongest prisons in the state.
The chief judge who attributed the high number of inmates to the failure of judges to be fair and just in the discharge of their duties, said those released were first time offenders arrested for non-capital offences, those unable to meet their bail conditions, and those whose case records were neither with the Ministry of Justice nor the Police.