The First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi has expressed worry of the growing number of awaiting trial suspects currently languishing in Ado-Ekiti prisons.
She has, therefore, promised to assist some of the inmates, including a pregnant woman, who are behind bars because of their inability to pay the fines slammed on them on conviction or to secure their bail.
The governor’s wife had visited the prison to join the Ekiti Catholic Diocese and Justice, Development and Peace Initiative arm of the church to celebrate Christmas with the inmates.
She had extended similar gestures to some of the inmates during her visit to the prisons in December 2010 and went a step further by rehabilitating some of them.
Of particular interest was the case of a then pregnant inmate, Mrs. Bose Amidu, whose story was told in the first two editions of this newsletter.
Apart from enlisting the support of the state chapter of the International Federation of Women Lawyers to secure her release, the First Lady got Amidu rehabilitated in her Kogi home state and she still receives monthly stipends for her upkeep till date.
During her visit to the prison, on December 13, 2011, 336 inmates were listed as having been in custody, eight of whom are females. Among there were greying men who could barely stand straight.
Of the total number, only 48 males and one female were said to be convicts, while 280 males and seven females were awaiting trials.
One of the inmates had caused a stir when he appeared from the blues and knelt down before the wife of the governor as she was departing the prisons begging her to intervene in their matter.
“Mummy please, it’s only people like you that can assist us. I’m a robbery accused, but I have been here for nine years going in and out of the court. We have among us somebody who has been on trial since 1996.
The problem is that sometimes when we go to court, the judges don’t sit. Sometimes we have the bad luck of having judges trying our cases transferred. A new judge will begin afresh.
This has kept many of us in detention for too long. Let them conclude our cases so that we can know our fate.”
The governor’s wife who was moved to tears, promised to partner other stakeholders and ensure that the awaiting trial suspects were not unduly kept behind bars.
She stressed the need for the influential and rich members of the society to always remember the less-privileged and victims of circumstances in the communities.
The First Lady said,
“The fact that people have made mistakes and have ended behind bars does not mean that they are no longer human beings, we need to remember them in our prayers and also remember them as we share the tidings of Christmas with our families and friends.
The high number of awaiting trial suspects is worrisome and we have to work together with our partners to see how we can reduce this figure to the barest minimum.
I have asked the authorities of the prisons to furnish me with information so that we can see those we have to pay their fines. We did it last year and we are committed to doing it again this year.”
Erelu Fayemi noted that poverty, frustration and lack of opportunities were the major reasons that bring people to prison.
Earlier in his speech, the Bishop of the Ekiti Catholic Diocese, Bishop Felix Ajakaye, thanked the First Lady for sparing a thought for the needy in the state and prayed that God would reward her abundantly.
Bishop Ajakaye promised the continued support of the Catholic diocese to the prison community.
Welcoming the visitors, the Controller of Prison in Ekiti State, Mrs Patricia Omene, appealed for more government support for the inmates.
She said the authorities were doing everything legally and humanly possible to cut down on the number ATS.
The inmates and choir members from the Catholic Church treated the gathering to evergreen Christmas songs.
Last modified: December 13, 2011