By Taiwo Okanlawon
The Chief Judge of Delta, Justice Marshal Umuokoro, has decried the high rate of divorce petitions in the state and blamed the rising rate of social vices to broken homes.
According to a statement by Mr Timothy Agbaragu, spokesman of the Delta High Court, on Saturday, Umuokoro said the rising divorce rate was contributing to the congestion in correctional homes in the state.
Umuokoro spoke shortly after he released 77 inmates and granted bail to two others at Ogwashi-Uku Medium Security Custodial Centre in Aniocha South Local Government Area.
In his words, “Between January and May, 157 petitions were filed by people seeking dissolution of marriage. The trend is scary, ugly and worrisome.”
The statement also quoted him as saying that 383 inmates, out of 2143 warrants reviewed in the five Custodial Centres across the State, were either freed or granted bail.
The Chief Judge observed that broken homes usually lead to juvenile delinquency which, in turn, leads to alarming rise in crime rates in the society.
Umuokoro advised parents to monitor their children closely and conduct adequate profile of the friends they keep.
He admonished youths to avoid bad company, saying that 80 percent of inmates, whose ages were between 17 and 25 in Ogwashi-Uku custodial centre, were from outside the State.
“Like I always say, it shows that our family system is being threatened; many parents are not doing their home work,” he said.
Umuokoro also regretted that complainants had continued to prematurely withdraw from rape cases, saying that the situation had adverse consequences.
Chief Judge stated: “It is unfortunate that most of the victims are being pressurised to settle the matters out of court. In most such cases, the victims hardly get justice.
“It is a drawback on the advocacy by FIDA, our women Lawyers and other NGOs, who are advocating that people charged with such offences should be tried,” Umuokoro stated.
Umuokoro admonished Lawyers, who represent inmates, to plead for mercy rather than having the mindset of inquiring into their guilt or innocence, even as he implored them to exercise discretion in order to balance the scale of justice.
He said that he could not release or grant bail to inmates charged with capital offences such as kidnapping, murder and rape as such heinous crimes were rampant in the society.
Umuokoro said that one of the inmates granted bail on health ground was Benneth Madubugini, 53, from Okpanam, diagnosed of glaucoma, and Emeka Chukwuma, 19, who had been in custody since 2017 for robbing a victim of the sum of N820.
The Chief Judge, while granting the bail, said that their continue state in custody for such crimes amounted to economic wastage on the Federal Government.
Some of the pardoned inmates, who spoke with newsmen, thanked the Chief Judge for showing them mercy, and vowed not to go back to crime.