A Rivers State High Court has ordered the unconditional release of 150 inmates from the Maximum Port Harcourt Correctional Centre after spending nine years in jail without trial.
Justice G. O. Ollor delivered the judgment after a lawyer, Nasiru Ibiloye; and his organisation known as, ‘Access To Freedom International’, instituted a fundamental human rights case against the Commissioner of Police, Attorney General, Comptroller of Prisons Rivers State Command and the Chief Registrar of Rivers State Judiciary.
Justice Ollor in his judgment also ordered the four defendants in the case to pay N100, 000 to each of the inmates for their continued detention and breach of their fundamental human rights.
The court held that the lawyer and his organisation which instituted the case for the inmates are legally bound to do so.
Ibiloye said his organization had gone to the facility to ensure that the inmates were treated fairly when it was discovered that the facility was overstretched and some inmates have overstayed without having their day in court.
He said, “As an 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, some 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, judgement was delivered and the court ruled that all the inmates be released unconditionally.”