Anglican Church Gets Free Legal Aid To Onitsha Prison Inmates

KayCee
By KayCee August 1, 2014 16:24

The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Diocese on the Niger, has appointed a legal team to assist in giving a free legal aid to inmates of Onitsha prison who are languishing in the prison custody without being charged to court.

The lawyers known as legal secretaries are expected to liaise with the Diocesan Chancellor and Registrar to monitor the records of the prison inmates and ensure that they were not forgotten at the Awaiting Trial, (ATM) level without their cases being heard in the courts of law. This was the highlight of the visit of the Bishop on the Niger, Rev. Dr. Owen Nwokolo, to the Chapel of Restoration, Onitsha Prison Chaplaincy on pastoral visit and confirmation of some inmates as part of activities marking the 150th anniversary of the advent of Church Missionary Society (CMS) in Igbo land.

Nwokolo said that henceforth, the church would no longer tolerate a situation where accused persons would be dumped inside the prison custody as ATM inmates and forgotten. He noted that although the legal team was already in existence at the Diocesan level, he was using this opportunity to make it more active because the church has since discovered that some of the inmates were innocent of the crimes for which they were being detained but probably because they could not grease the palms of some security agencies, particularly the down trodden who cannot defend themselves financially and educationally they were just dumped inside the prison custody and forgotten. Bishop Nwokolo announced a donation of a new brand bus to assist the prison authorities in conveying the inmates to various courts for their trial, adding that the bus would be delivered soon with a live cow for the inmates.

He urged the Federal Government to refurbish the existing infrastructure and provide new ones in prisons to make the yards truly  reformation centres because, according to him, “if we keep the inmates in a jungle-like prison cusotdy, when they serve out their jail terms and come out, they will not be happy with the government and they might be tempted to go back to crime”.

The cleric noted that in advanced countries and some Africa countries, prisons have reformatory infrastructure and conducive atmosphere, adding, “These well kept prisons have trained personnel in sociology and psychology who endeavoured to change the attitude of prison inmates for the better”..

On the Church Missionary Society (CMS) 157 years anniversary, Nwokolo said that the diocese was celebrating CMS due to its great civilization in language, education, medication, culture and agriculture in Nigeria.

The cleric said that it was the same society that made it possible to have a country called `Nigeria’.

Other highlights of the service were the confirmation of 21 inmates, the presentation of art work by the inmates to the bishop, as well as recognition of former woman Governor of Anambra State, Dame Virgy Etiaba and other prominent members of the Diocese for their contributions towards the growth of the church.

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KayCee
By KayCee August 1, 2014 16:24