The Ebonyi state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Ben Uruchi Odoh, has lamented what he described as deplorable living standard of inmates at the Abakaliki Custodial Center, saying it is heart-breaking and uncalled for.
In a post on his Facebook page on Thursday, the legal practitioner revealed that he recently paid a visit to the Custodial Center, as part of his oversight functions, only to realise that the centre, “which was originally built to accommodate 387 inmates, now carries a total of 1,336 inmates, many of whom are detained unjustly.”
The commissioner said he will do everything within his power to ensure many of the inmates are granted justice and freed in order to decongest the custodial, saying the inmates are experiencing a clear case of abrupt dehumanization
He said: “Prior to my inauguration as the Honourable Attorney General/ Commissioner for Justice, Ebonyi State, I heard with great dismay, disheartening cases of people whose right to justice had been denied in many custodial centres.
“As part of my oversight functions, I paid a visit to Abakaliki Custodial Centre of the Nigerian Correctional Service (Prison), and after my visit, I can attest that indeed, our justice system is in need of a serious reform.
“While at the Custodial Centre, I saw a clear case of abrupt dehumanisation where a centre originally built to accommodate 387 inmates now carries a total of 1,336 inmates, some of who were innocent citizens of the country. In fact, I counted in a particular instance and realised that a total of 126 inmates were staying in one room.
“It shattered my heart to realise that some of the inmates, some of who had been held hostage for almost a decade, did not have case files. Some of them have never stood before a judge nor had any real chance at getting justice. I also saw a vivid case of an inmate who although was involved in a crime, had long overstayed his sentence.
“On this note, I hereby state that all abandoned case files in Ebonyi State will be revisited. Inmates who are awaiting trial will be granted audience and those whose release dates have long passed will be released on parole, pending the consent of other relevant authorities.”