Court orders release of 150 inmates in Rivers

Justice G.O Ollor of the Rivers State High Court, Port Harcourt, on Friday ordered the unconditional release of 150 inmates from the Maximum Port Harcourt Correctional Centre.

The inmates had spent nine years in jail without trial.

The judge gave the directive while ruling on a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by a lawyer, Nasiru Ibiloye; and his organisation known as “Access To Freedom International,” challenging the inmates’ continued stay in detention.

The Rivers State Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General, the state’s Comptroller of Prisons and Chief Registrar of Rivers State Judiciary were listed as respondents in the suit.

Justice Ollor also ordered the respondents to pay N100, 000 to each of the inmates for their continued detention and breach of their rights.

He held that the lawyer and his organisation which filed the case on behalf of the inmates were legally bound to do so.

Ibiloye told journalists that his oganisation discovered that the correctional centre was overstretched during a visit to the facility.

He added that some inmates had overstayed in the facility without having their day in court.

The lawyer said: “As a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), we went to the prison yard to check the amenities and ensure that inmates are treated fairly. We are building a library for them. In the course of doing these things, we discovered that the prison was overstretched.

“Some people have spent 10 years and others 15 years. We asked for their list. We first applied for their charge sheet. We could not get the charge sheet until the court made an order against the Chief Registrar.

“At the end of the day, judgment was delivered and the court ruled that all the inmates be released unconditionally.”

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