No fewer than 77 inmates awaiting trial at the Sapele Medium Security Custodial Centre in Delta State yesterday regained their freedom.
Chief Judge (CJ) of the state, Marshal Umukoro, who also released nine inmates and granted one bail at the Sapele Remand Home and Detention Centre, condemned the unwillingness of complainants to testify in court after reporting their cases to police.
He encouraged witnesses to give evidence in court, saying it would send a signal to other criminals that there was no gain in crime.
Justice Umukoro disclosed that money had been voted as part of State Judiciary budget to compensate witnesses who incurred expenses, adding that unwillingness to give evidence was a clog in the wheel of justice administration and decongestion of prisons.
“One thing that is very worrisome is for people to report cases and the moment the law is set in motion, persons are arrested, case files are compiled and sent to DPP only to be told that witnesses are not ready to testify in court.
“Whether they are discharged or convicted is immaterial, but the fact that they have been tried will serve as deterrent to other criminally minded persons in society,” he stated.
Justice Umukoro, who earlier released 149 inmates from the Warri Custodial Centre and granted bail to six, commended officers of the Sapele Custodial Centre, the state Counsel Sapele Zone and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for their diligence and efficiency that facilitated the visit.