The Chief Judge of Rivers state, Justice Simeon Chibuzor Amadi, has granted pardon to 53 inmates standing trial for various offences at the Port Harcourt Maximum Correctional Centre.
The exercise is part of the activities outlined to kick off the 2023/2024 legal year in the state, as well as being a move to decongest the Maximum Correctional Centre in Port Harcourt.
Justice Amadi said the exercise is also in compliance with the provision of section 34 Sub-section 1 of the Criminal Justice Law of Rivers State and the special provision act of the Laws of the Federation which empowers the Chief Judge to visit the correctional centre to ascertain the number of inmates in custody, their duration of stay, and determine those deserving of a pardon.
Justice Amadi also used the opportunity to call on the police to be thorough in their investigations before charging a suspect to court saying, “Somebody will steal, and the police will charge them for armed robbery instead of stealing. Sometimes when people recover their stolen property, they are not ready to continue the matter in court”.
Speaking further, he advised the released inmates to be of good conduct.
“I came here for an exercise just to make you better citizens. No one wants you to die, you have learnt something here. Please, I beg you all to leave evil and cultism. As you go back to the village let the change be seen in you, don’t go back to eat your vomit, go back and find something to do: farm, fish or learn hand work.
“Think for yourself, if you are struggling, people will help you when they see ingenuity in you. Change because you may not have a second chance but if not, it might not be business as usual.”
In his remarks, the Comptroller of the State Correctional Service, Felix Lawrence commended the criminal justice system Administration in the State for effectively decongesting the Port-Harcourt Maximum correctional service, revealing that at his assumption of office in June, he met over 4,000 inmates, but the number has dropped by a thousand.
The inmates granted pardon are those who have been in the correction centre for five and nine years respectively and standing trial as awaiting trial inmates who had no information filed against them by the Department of Public Prosecution in the High Court.