Okowa Tasks Judges on Decongesting of Prisons in Delta

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on Wednesday urged Judges in the state to speed up trials in order to decongest the state’s prisons of inmates awaiting trial.

He gave the charge when he received the State’s Chief Judge (CJ), Justice Marshal Umukoro and other Judges in the state who paid him a courtesy visit in Asaba, the state capital.
The News Agency Nigeria (NAN) reports that 2,153 inmates are awaiting trial in Delta.
The governor described the large number of inmates awaiting trial in the state as unfortunate.
“There is need for speedy trials to free those who are not guilty and to enable government make provisions to engage those who would be released from the prisons.
“Though the state and indeed the country are facing difficult times, the state government would do all within its power to financially support the judiciary to perform its duty of upholding the rule of law,’’ he said.
Okowa reiterated his administration’s commitment to delivering prosperity to the people of the state.
He said that there was the need for the three arms of government to work in partnership to deliver development to the people.
The governor thanked the CJ and his entourage for the visit and pledged to look into their demands within the limits of the state resources.
“Our Judges are honourable people and we will continue to look on to them to ensure that they are fair in all that they do.
“On our part, we have promised Deltans that we will be fair, just and equitable in all that we do and we know that you will be the integral part of ensuring justice and fair play in whatever decisions are taken.
“It is unfortunate that we have such large number of people awaiting trial, I hope that do your best to see how we can speed up trials,” the governor said.
Earlier, the Chief Judge said that the purpose of the visit was to congratulate the governor on his victory, introduce the judiciary working team and to acquaint him with the working of the judiciary in the state.
He prayed God to give the governor the grace to deliver on his campaign promises and pledged the commitment of the Judiciary to continue to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour.
The CJ appealed to the governor to approve the appointment of five High Court Judges to fill in the existing vacancies which occurred due to recent retirements.
He confirmed that the prisons were congested, with 2,153 awaiting trial across the state.
According to him, the judiciary will soon embark on prison visit aimed at decongesting the prisons.
Umukoro, however, expressed fear that those that may be released may not easily find something to do and appealed to the governor to make provisions to accommodate them.
According to the CJ, the state has 31 instead of 40 High Court Judges, 31 Revenue Court Judges and 111 Magistrates.
He said in the Customary Court of Appeal, the state has six Judges, including the President, Customary Court of Appeal.
“In our prisons, we have 2,153 persons awaiting trials; Sapele Prison – 209, Kwale-149, Warri-933, Agbor-253, Ogwashi-Uku-609 and the age bracket of these persons are between 17 years and 28 years.
“We shall be embarking on prison visits to release some of these persons, but my fear is, to whom are we going to release these people?
Umukoro called on the governor, political leaders and all well meaning Nigerians to support the Judiciary in accommodating the ex-prisoners.

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