Rivers Seeks to Stop Release of Freed 150 Prisoners

Prison Photo

Rivers State Government has gone to court to stop the release of 150 inmates who had been in prison for over eight years without facing trial.

A Rivers State High Court had in December ordered the release of the 150 inmates of the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre after it found out that they had been held without trial for periods ranging between eight and nine years.

But on Thursday, the Rivers State Government through the Attorney-General approached the court to order a stay of execution of the judgment and also a review the judgment.

The presiding judge, G.O. Ollor, adjourned the matter till February 24 to enable counsel to the state government file his application.

Modi Eke, the lawyer to Rivers State government, said in ordering the release of the inmates, the court was not aware that most of them had pending criminal cases against them in other courts.

“If the court had known about this, the court would not have made the order because this court has no power to terminate ongoing criminal proceedings in other high courts. It is only the court of appeal that can do that.

“It is likely the court would not have given that judgment. That is why we are back here. The law allows us to come back to the court,” Eke said.

Nasiri Ibiloye, lawyer to the inmates said the grounds on which the court can set aside the judgment were only the establishment of fraud in the claims brought before it or where the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

The court had in December freed the 150 inmates and ordered Rivers State government to pay each of them the sum of N100,000. The case was brought on behalf of the inmates by an NGO, Access to Freedom International.

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