From Esther Akaa, Lafia
The Chief Judge (CJ) of Nasarawa State, Justice Aisha Bashir-Aliyu has discharged 37 inmates awaiting trial at the five Federal Correctional Centres in the state.
Bashir-Aliyu discharged the inmates during a routine visit to Lafia, Wamba, Nassarawa Medium, Keffi Old and Keffi Modern Custodian Centres.
Speaking at the end of the visit on Tuesday in Lafia, Justice Bashir-Aliyu said the tour was a routine exercise to carryout her mandate in line with the law.
The CJ noted that the law has empowered her to go round the custodian facilities from time to time to review cases of awaiting trials inmates with a view of ensuring that justice is served.
She gave the breakdown of those discharged from various custodian facilities as; Lafia 25, Wamba 5, Nassarawa 3 and Keffi Modern Custodian centre 4 respectively.
“The exercise is aimed at seeing to the health and well-being of the inmates, discharge those wrongly incarcerated or stayed more than the punishment for the offences they were being charge for.
“The custodian facilities were not meant to punish the inmates, but to reform them and make them better persons afterward,” she said.
The CJ assured said that the judiciary under her would continue to ensure that cases were concluded timely and justice served, in order to decongest the custodian centres.
She urged the lower courts to desist from sending accused persons to correctional centres unnecessarily so that the facilities would not be congested.
“Always try settlement except if it is unavoidable before you sentence accused to custodian centres,” she added.
The CJ said most of the custodian centres were already overstretched, carrying more than two times there capacities.
She warned the discharged inmates to stay away from crime or if caught again would face maximum punishment.
On his part, Controller of Correctional Services in the state, Mallam Yunusa Ibrahim-Ada expressed gratitude to the CJ and her team for the visit, saying it has brought hope, peace and sustained security in the facilities.
“As at today, the total number of inmates in various facilities is 1,877, with 1,383 awaiting trial inmates, 483 convicts and 11 sentenced to death.
“I want to appeal to the CJ to ensure that judges in the state deploy the instrument of alternative imprisonment, especially for persons accused of minor offences, in order to decongest the facilities.
“We are constrained by inadequacy of operational vehicles to convey our ever increasing inmates to courts spread across the 13 local government areas of the state,” he said.