By Collins Ughalaa
What has been described as worrisome development in Owerri Prison has emerged. This came as the Imo State Chief Judge, Hon Justice Pascal Nnadi, visited the prison facilities.
According to official prison records made available to the press at the event, the Owerri Prison was constructed to house 545 inmates, but the facility is currently housing 2,332 inmates. The record further shows the number of inmates awaiting trial who are above 60 years.
Among them are four minors; six inmates are facing minor offences while 18 inmates are suffering from terminal sicknesses. One hundred and nine inmates have been without trial in court for more than five years.
The Chief Judge of Imo State, Hon. Justice Pascal Nnadi, said that judges would now be periodically sitting in prison yards in Imo State so as to decongest prisons. He made the remark during his recent visit to Federal Prisons in Owerri.
During the occasion, the Chief Judge held a special court session, which lasted for more than 4 hours and freed some inmates and granted bail to some. He also gave various directives in respect of some detainees whose cases had not been tried for some years.
Speaking at the occasion, the jurist enjoined the prison officials to always make available written medical records of detainees suffering from life-threatening ailments whenever judges visit the prisons so as to guide judges in considering cases before them.
Addressing the press shortly after the event, a legal practitioner, Barr Emperor Iwuala enjoined lawyers to offer free legal services to detainees, which he said would go a long way in also decongesting the prisons.
Those in attendance at the event include Hon. Justice P. C. Ikpeama, Hon Justices N. B. Ukoha, Hon. Justice Theresa Chikeka, Justice E. F. Njemanze, Chief Registrar High Court Owerri Mrs. I. G. Chukwunyere, other High Court registrars, magistrates, representatives of the Nigerian Bar Association and law officers.
Others include the Comptroller of Prisons Imo State Command Mr. Chris Okoye, other prison officials, representative of Child Protection Network and members of the International Prison Chaplaincy Association of Nigeria.
In another development, activities marking the beginning of the 2017/2018 Legal Year hold on Friday 17 November 2017.
This was contained in a press release by the Public Relation Officer of the Imo State High Court, Mr. Ernest Nnanabu.
According to the release, on the above date, there will be a church service at Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri by 10am to be followed by the event proper at the Paul Onumaulu Square, High Court of Owerri premises, off Orlu Road, Owerri Imo State.