Delta State Chief Judge, Honourable Justice Tessy Diai has ordered the discharge of another four inmates in Kwale Custodial Centre today in continuation of the jail delivery exercise, even as she enjoined Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, in the Ministry of Justice to assist in quick dispensation of justice by rendering legal opinion without delay.

Justice Diai who reviewed a total of 277 warrant cases of inmates awaiting trial in the Centre, stated that the fortunate defendants were released based on the legal opinion of the Director of Public Prosecutions to the effect that they had no case to answer. 

One of the lucky inmates, Gabriel Isicheri from Umolu in Ndokwa East Local Government Area accused of murder, stated that the villagers accused him of killing his daughter who got sick and died. He stated that even when he explained that the daughter passed away as a result of an ailment in the hospital the Police still went ahead to charge him for a crime he knew nothing about. 

On their part, Azubike Andrew and Sunday Emema narrated how vigilante groups in their community falsely accused them of conspiracy to murder and arson. 

The four inmates who broke into tears of joy amid jubilation when the Chief Judge pronounced them innocent of the charges levelled against them, thanked Justice Diai and DPP for exonerating them.

Justice Diai enjoined state counsel in the Ministry of Justice to ensure diligent prosecution of cases, warning that undue delay of matters would make the court strike out such cases on grounds of lack of diligent prosecution.

The Chief Judge expressed surprise when some inmates standing trial on capital offences brought to her knowledge that they had no legal representation, stressing that no matter the severity of an alleged offence a defendant standing trial for a capital offence was entitled to a fair hearing and a lawyer.

Justice Tessy Diai commended prison officers of Kwale Custodial Centre for their efficiency and diligence in reproducing inmates regularly in courts despite challenges faced. 

She pointed out that though correctional centres were under the Exclusive List in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) the number one Judicial Officer of the State hinted that she has taken up the issue of provision of additional vehicles with the State Governor and that something was being done about it.

Earlier in a welcome address, the Assistant Controller of Corrections, Egwuatu Joseph, disclosed that the lack of functional vehicles has hampered efforts of the centre to reproduce inmates in the 32 courts spread across four local governments.

Mr. Egwuatu who revealed that the Kwale Custodial Centre established in 1906 has the capacity of housing 262 inmates, pointed out that the inability of courts to attend to custody cases had exposed them to security challenges. 

He, therefore, appealed to the Chief Judge to use her good office to influence the state government to assist in the efficient performance of their duty.

With the four inmates discharged at the Kwale Custodial Centre bring the total number of accused persons released so far from Warri, Sapele, and Kwale to 17. While the total number of cases of awaiting trial inmates reviewed by the Chief Judge stood at 1105.

By Agbaragu Timothy.

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