Legal Drama

Law & Policy: Lagos Chief Judge Frees 233 Inmates After Years in Prison Awaiting Trial

I have discussed Nigeria’s criminal justice system and what should happen when a defendant is detained and/arrested, versus what actually happens. Please revisit my discussion in my article titled, #OccupyNigeria:What You Should Know if Arrested While Protesting in Nigeria.

The news below is welcome news in Nigeria’s criminal justice system. There is still a long way to go.

“SEPTEMBER 18, 2012  .  . .
The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, on Tuesday freed a total of 233 inmates from the Kirikiri Medium and Maximum Security Prisons in Lagos, during her visit to the facilities.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that while 130 inmates were released at the maximum facility, 103 were set free at the medium prison.

Phillips, however, admonished the pardoned inmates to “go and sin no more.”

NAN reports that the prison visit was part of activities marking the commencement of the 2012/2013 Legal Year of the Lagos State Judiciary.

The chief judge said the gesture was aimed at reducing congestion at the prisons, as well as releasing some of the inmates who had been awaiting trial for many years.

“This is our own little way of reducing congestion in our prisons.

“There is a maxim we have in law that it is better for ten guilty persons to go free than for one innocent person to be unjustly incarcerated.

“For those of you who are lucky to be released today, I admonish you to go and sin no more.

“I want you to go and make your mark positively in the society”, the chief judge advised the elated inmates.

Phillips, however, cautioned against the arbitrary release of prisoners, stressing that a thorough screening must be done before any such act of clemency could be implemented.

Earlier in his address of welcome, the Deputy Controller, Maximum Security Prison, Mr. Tinu Oye, said the prison, which had a capacity to accommodate 1,056 prisoners, was home to only 763.

Oye said some of the inmates had spent over 12 years in the prison awaiting trial, even for minor offences.

He urged the Prerogative of Mercy Committee, which was set up by the Federal Government, to visit the prisons regularly to address such cases. . .

The Punch has the full story.


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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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