The Presidential Committee on Correctional Reforms and Decongestion has released a total number of thirteen (13) inmates including a seventy-year-old man from various Correctional Centres in Akwa Ibom State.
Chairman of the Presidential Committee and Chief Judge, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Honourable Justice Ishaq U. Bello disclosed this at the end of the decongestion exercise and facility tour of the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Monday March 16th, 2020.
Hon. Justice Bello said, “a total inmates released are 13 from the Correctional Centre, out of this, 11 of them had their option of fine paid by the State government.. Two were released on grounds of ill health.
He explained that the 13 inmates were released in accordance to the mandate given to the committee. The pardon for their release were based on those who were convicted of minor offences with option of fines but were unable to pay, old age, ill health, overstay of statutory detention period and other factors that could justify their release.
He disclosed that the release was at the instance of the state government to settle the fines on behalf of the convicted inmates and set them free.
The Chairman the released inmates to be of good conduct, not to involve in crimes that would likely bring them back to the correctional centre. He urged them to associate with people of good character, to be better citizens for themselves and the country.
He commended the Controller of National Correctional Service, Akwa Ibom State, for being diligent and competent in doing the job while noting the cleanliness and good environment of the Centre.
The Controller of Correctional Service, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Aleze Oditah, in his opening remarks, expressed difficulties and challenges encountered in the management of the inmates due to over population. He disclosed that the Uyo Correctional Centre housed over 1,347 inmates overshooting its capacity of 612 inmates with about 70% of them on awaiting trial.
Oditah however acknowledged that with the Ecological funding from the State Government, the renovation of the Correctional Centre is 70% completed and this will give a sort of relief from challenges often experienced during rainy season.
Earlier, during a courtesy call on His Excellency, Emmanuel Gabriel Udom, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Hon. Justice Bello explained that the Committee’s visit to the state is in line with Presidential mandate to decongest the Custodial Centers nationwide to meet with the international standard of criminal justice and human right standard.
He explained that the purpose of the visit was to review cases of inmates who have been convicted of minor offences with the option of fines and unable to pay same, review cases of inmates with special cases, to carrying out on spot assessment of the condition of the custodial centres and amongst others.
He appealed to the Governor to establish Skill Acquisition Centres in the Correctional Centres to enable inmates acquire Skills while serving jail term and upon release, to be enable them continue normal life and integrate with the society.
The Hon. Chief Judge said that the Committee is working hard to increase Skill Acquisition Centers as part of rehabilitation of inmates, by acquiring skill on any job of interest that would be of benefit to enable them start a new life after the completion of their statutory detention/jail term from which a fraction from their sales or proceed would be given to help them establish.
He disclosed that as part of the efforts to inculcate reading culture, the Committee would donate inspirational books to the Correctional Centres to help develop the inmates. He explained that the new innovation is intended to help the inmates to acquire knowledge thereby transforming their psyche from vices to virtues.
He expressed delight at the good works being done by the Governor in giving Akwa Ibom Correctional Centres face lift to meet with the International Standard.
In his response, Governor Udom Emmanuel said that the state had in the past supported with the construction/rehabilitation of some Correctional Centres in the state namely; Ikot Ekpene, Ikot Abasi and Uyo Correctional centres.
He promised to establish Skill Acquisition Centres in the Correctional Centres in partnership with Private Organisations.