Delta State Chief Judge, Justice Tessy Diai, has concluded the jail delivery exercise for the first quarter of the year in the state with a directive to magistrates to conclude cases before them on or before six months.
Justice Diai discharged 17 defendants and granted two bails at the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Ogwashi-Uku in Aniocha South Local Government Area of the state.
He stressed that where a matter could not be concluded within the period for one reason or the other, they should forward a report to the chief registrar stating the challenges experienced.
On remand cases the chief judge noted: “I will keep reminding you that matters where you assume jurisdiction you should be very careful of those ones regarding where you will remand defendants where there is need for remand.
“You can see what has happened here in Ogwashi-Uku prison; most of the cases are not meant to be here.”
She pointed out that it posed a serious challenge to seamless court trial to produce defendants in court far from where they were resident, assuring the prison officers of assistance to make arrangement for trial to be conducted where proximate to the defendants.
“I just hope that there will be some improvements and where there is difficulty at least in bringing defendant from custody, we should know so that if it is possible to arrange for trial to be conducted where the defendant is, we can arrange that instead of leaving the defendant in custody forever,” she said.
She observed with dismay that the long period it took the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the Ministry of Justice to render legal opinion was adversely affecting the speedy dispensation of justice.
The chief judge noted that the abnormal situation made defendants to spend in custody beyond the maximum sentence they ought to serve had they been convicted.
The number one judicial officer in the state therefore enjoined the DPP to improve on the area before the next visit and always introspect the golden rule while discharging their duties.
Giving summary of the exercise that ended on Friday, January 28, at the Ogwashi-Uku custodial centre, Justice Diai disclosed that a total of 1,898 warrants of inmates were reviewed at the five custodial centres of the Nigerian Correctional Service, out of which nine were released in Warri, four in Sapele and none in Kwale.
In Agbor five inmates were released and two granted bails; Ogwashi-Uku 17 released and two granted bails bringing the grand total released at the five custodial centres to 35.