Undoubtedly, the Enugu Maximum Security Prison is now overstretched, as it is presently housing 1,800 inmates as against 638. Dropping the hint was the Comptroller, Mr. Alloy Uchenwa, who said something drastic must be done about the situation. Uchenwa, who made the disclosure during a visit to the prison by the Enugu State Chief Judge, Innocent Umezulike, said government had been trying to improve the situation, but noted that maintaining the prison had not been an easy task, aside from structural challenges.
“Due to this problem, the under- aged inmates are kept with much older and hardened criminals. You know that this could have an overbearing effect,” he said. Uchenwa said the chief judge’s mission would contribute immensely to decongesting the three prisons in Enugu, Oji-River and Nsukka.
The comptroller called on government, the non-governmental organisations and well-meaning Nigerians, to re-activate the Institution for Juveniles at Hill-top, Ngwo. “The government alone cannot do it, which is why we are imploring patriotic Nigerians who have the wherewithal to come and assist us,” he said.
Meanwhile, Umezuluike had earlier explained that the annual exercise was aimed at ensuring that criminal cases were not overdelayed.
“We want to ensure that cases bordering on crime are assigned to competent courts, while those that have no substance are expeditiously dispensed of. Therefore, our mission is to ensure that those who have overstayed are released and we shall try our best to meet the demand,” he said.
Umezuluike said that a similar exercise would be carried out at the Nsukka and Oji-River prisons and urged lawyers to ensure that it was orderly, smooth and peaceful.
Meanwhile, a convict, one Sunday Ezulue regained freedom. He was earlier convicted for killing his brother accidentally.
Ezelue was full of joy over his release, having spent five years as an awaiting trial man, jocularly called ATM.
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