By Abimbola Ogunnaike
Akwa Ibom State Chief Judge, Justice Ekaette Obot, has freed 12 inmates, including an 80-year-old man in Ikot Abasi and Eket correctional centres on awaiting trial list.
Out of the 12 freed inmates on Thursday, 23 March, 2023, three were from Ikot Abasi Correctional Centre, while nine were from Eket Correctional Centre and had been awaiting trial for between one to five years.
The Chief Judge, before granting the inmates pardon, went through all the case files both in Ikot Abasi and Eket during an inspection of the facilities and said their period of stay in the centres without trial was enough punishment for the minor offences they were accused of and ordered that they be released unconditionally.
Obot also released some on compassionate grounds and others on the want of prosecution.
One John Akpan in Ikot Abasi correctional centre, who was accused of stealing a bunch of plantain from his uncle’s plantation and had been in custody for over 12 months, was pardoned by the Chief Judge and was asked to be of good behaviour.
The chief judge also pardoned an 80-year-old man Ime Udoh, in Eket correctional centre who could barely walk and his son James Ime, who was charged with disobeying a court order.
Goodnews Isaiah, who was charged with assault and had been in custody for over 12 months without trial, was given unconditional freedom by the chief judge, who also urged him to be of good behaviour.
Ime William, also of Ikot Abasi correctional centre, was accused of conspiracy and had been in custody for over three years and was discharged and acquitted.
The chief judge noted that some freed inmates had spent more years in prison than the penalty for the offence they were charged with, while some had been in the custodial centres for five years without being charged to court.
Earlier in his remarks at Ikot Abasi correctional centre, the head of centre, Mr Boniface Momoh, said that the custodial centre has the capacity for 230 but locked 133 inmates.
Momoh thanked the Chief Judge for the facility tour of the centre in spite of her tight schedule to ascertain the condition of the centre and the welfare of inmates.