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PRAI in Partnership with STANBIC IBTC Donates a vocational workshop at the Borstal Institution, Adigbe, Abeokuta Ogun State

PRAI is glad to have facilitated the donation of a fully furnished vocational workshop at the Borstal Institution, Adigbe, Abeokuta Ogun State. The workshop was donated by Stanbic IBTC Bank. The sections in the edifice includes Tailoring, Carpentry, Barbing and Computer/IT sections. We believe that this should be a place of learning and empowerment with guided reformation. This transformation should help them be well reintegrated into the society.   We hope to make this project sustainable to help the boys currently residing at the Institution and those to come in future. We appreciate STANBIC IBTC for the worthy investment. We also appreciate Nigeria Correctional Services for opening their door and approving the project. Not forgetting the Attorney-General of Ogun State for commissioning the building.
PRAI

PRAI Invitation to 3 Days Correctional Centres Decongestion Exercise

Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative (PRAI) upon invitation by the Lagos State Judiciary attended the 3 days Correctional Centres Decongestion Exercise by the Hon. Chief Judge of Lagos State( Hon.Justice Kazeem O.Alogba ) to release deserving inmates on compassionate grounds.
On the first day, Tuesday, 30th of June 2020, 18 inmates were released from Kirikiri Medium Custodial Centre. On the second day,  Wednesday, 1st of July 2020 38 inmates were released from Ikoyi and Badagry Custodial Centres and
on the final day, Thursday 2nd of July 2020 , 24 inmates were released from Kirikiri Maximum Custodial Centre and Female Custodial Centre.
 
The Director of PRAI, Mr. Ahmed Adetola -Kazeem, appreciated the Chief Judge and the committee in charge of the decongestion exercise for releasing 80 inmates and improving on the last edition where  only 15 inmates were released. He also appreciated the Chief Judge for responding to PRAI’s letter of 13th March 2020 by considering those who have allegedly committed serious offences but have been in Prison for over 5 years without trial.
He further urged the Chief Judge and the Controller of Correctional Service to give effect to the innovative provisions of Section 12 of the Nigeria Correctional Service Act 2019 in order to ensure that there is consistent monitoring of inflow of inmates and to ensure that the Custodial Centres are not unduly overcrowded.
 
He used the opportunity to urge the Chief Judge to encourage the Governor of Lagos State to build at least a 5000 capacity Custodial facility in view of the population of Lagos State and considering that the present combine capacity is 4,087 but hold over 9000 inmates.

 

PROCEEDINGS OF WORKSHOP FACILITATED BY THE EXECUTIVE-DIRECTOR OF PRISONERS’ RIGHTS ADVOCACY INITIATIVE, AHMED ADETOLA-KAZEEM AT THE 2ND COURT CENTERED DUTY SOLICITORS TRAINING WORKSHOP

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]INTRODUCTION

Lawyers across Nigeria with interest in Court Duty Solicitors Scheme had an enlightening and interactive workshop with Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem on Justice for Awaiting Trial Inmates on the 7th of May 2020 via Court Centered Probono Whatsapp Platform.

Court Duty Solicitors are Probono Lawyers working to decongest the Court and Prisons through a court centered mechanism.

So instead of going to the correctional facilities, duty solicitors simply sit in their designated courts and appear for inmates who do not have legal representation.

Bayo Akinlade:  Give us a brief overview about PRAI

Adetola-Kazeem: Thank you very much Mr Akinlade for the invite. I will be sharing my experience and also hope to learn from this esteemed group.

Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative (PRAI) was registered in 2012 to contribute its quota towards ensuring true reforms of the Criminal Justice Administration in Nigeria and also ensuring Nigeria’s Correctional Centres (Formerly Prisons) are truly reformatory. PRAI uses Advocacy, Legal Defence, Reformation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration as the tools to achieving its aims

PRAI has secured the release of over 250 inmates with more than 1000 inmates benefitting from its vocational skills training and educational interventions over the years. About 20 ex-inmates have been successfully integrated into the society through provision of Jobs, Equipment and Funds to start businesses by PRAI.

PRAI’s major focus areas at the moment is ensuring that the provisions of the Nigeria Correctional Service Act (NCSA) 2019 are given full effect to in order to combat the endemic overcrowding in our Custodial Centres as well as the inhumane treatment of inmates. PRAI recently sued the Federal Government and other stakeholders in the Criminal Justice Sector, on behalf of inmates of Ikoyi Custodial Centre at the Federal High Court in order for the court to make pronouncement on the innovative provisions of section 12 of the NSCA 2019. We are awaiting Judgment in the matter which is before Honourable Justice Liman.

Bayo Akinlade: How do we effectively fight for the rights of awaiting trial inmates

Adetola-Kazeem: We must first understand that the rights is beyond Awaiting Trial Inmates (ATIs), Convicts also have rights that should be protected. That said, we can only fight for the rights of ATIs if we know what their rights entails and the ramifications.

We can fight for the rights of ATIs through the following ways:

  1. KNOWLEDGE OF RELEVANT LAWS:

The first thing is to know the relevant provisions of the Constitution; the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules,2009; Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015; the ACJ Laws of relevant States; and the Nigeria Correctional Service Act 2019. This will open your eyes to different approaches for your interventions.

Familiarize yourself with substantive laws such as the Criminal Code Act, Criminal Code Law of the relevant state, the EFCC Act etc. to know what offence your client has been charged with, sometimes they would have spent more than the time required under the law awaiting trial. I have successfully used this on at least four different occasions.

  1. WEIGH YOUR APPROACH

Secondly, weigh your approach. It is not everytime you rush to court, sometimes a simple letter to the appropriate authorities could get you what you want. I have used this approach severally which have ensured the release of hundreds of inmates during the tenure of Mr. Ade Ipaye as AG of Lagos.

At PRAI we have used Fundamental Rights; Habeas Corpus; Letter; Class Actions; Media Advocacy; and Trial successfully in the interest of Awaiting Trial Inmates.

  1. GET THE BUY-IN OF STAKEHOLDERS

Make friends with Journalist and Bloggers. They will ensure your interventions get faster attention. This helped me a lot as a new wig to gain traction and still helps me at the moment. But let it be a relationship of value. I have added value to all the Journalists that I have worked with by consciously working with them to write award winning stories from the work I do.

In 2012 a journalist with Punch Newspapers did a beautiful story titled “One day in Court, Life In Jail” , the story chronicles the misery of ATIs using my first 3 Fundamental Rights cases against the Police and Lagos State as case studies. The story won him his very first award at the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME). He also won the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) the next year for a story on underage children sent to prison by Special offences Court, which was then in Alausa. The story was titled “Court where Alleged offenders are rushed to Jail”.

Last year alone two Journalists from Punch and the Nation Newspaper won Awards at the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism and the DAME Awards respectively- I practically forced them to do the stories. PRAI also gave them Plaques in recognition of their support early this year.

Apply this to other stakeholders too. Have friends in the Police, Ministry of Justice, Courts, the Nigeria Correctional Service etc. This will ensure you are able to navigate the system easily and it will assist you achieve results faster. In all these do not compromise your integrity. You might want no read about Social Intelligence to understand the point I am trying to make here.

The list in endless but is suffices to stop here for now

Bayo Akinlade: How do we help resolve the issues around prison congestion?

Adetola-Kazeem: We can help by volunteering with NGOs and Initiatives like the Lagos Public Interest Law Partnership (LPILP) and the Court Duty Solicitor Scheme of the NBA to offer Pro Bono Services to Inmates.

We should also keep creating awareness about their issues, it helps a lot.

We can raise funds or donate to NGOs in the frontline of the defence of awaiting trial inmates.

Bayo Akinlade: What is our specific role as legal practitioners in ensuring that the wrong people are not remanded in prison custody.

Adetola-Kazeem: Our role is to keep mounting pressure on the government as individuals and in groups such as NBA and coalition of CSOs to reform the Police. We can’t curb the problem or arbitrary remand without curbing arbitrary arrests. The Police needs total overhauling in terms of discipline, remuneration, coordination and mindset shift.

 

I think the Police Duty Solicitor Scheme and the innovation by the Ministry of Justice to place staff in court to properly vet charges in court at the point of entry into the court is a welcomed idea that will stem the tide of imprisoning those who have no business there.

QUESTIONS FROM PARTICIPANTS

Questioner: It does seem that PRAI is only available in Lagos state, is this correct? If yes, are there plans of expanding to the South-East soon?

Adetola-Kazeem: PRAI activities cuts across, Lagos, Ogun, Kwara and Kaduna States at the moment

You can join the Network of ProBono Lawyers which I co-founded via https://netprolaw.com/. We have presence in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Benue and Abia states.

Questioner:  Is there limit to the extent of court for pro bono services e.g Magistrate and or High court; or it could go as far as Supreme Court?

Adetola-Kazeem: Pro Bono Services could go as far as the Supreme Court, you can act for clients at the regional courts like the ECOWAS Court etc

Questioner: How can you engage Lawyers in states where Court Duty Solicitors Scheme (CDSS) has not been introduced?

Adetola-Kazeem: Lawyers in states where there is no CDSS should volunteer for NGOs in those state or take cases on their own and eventually register their NGOs to scale. This was the way I started.

Questioner:  My question bothers on pro-bono issue, I am in NBA Ikorodu Branch Pro-bono Committee, please can I really and truly survive the rigour of moving out of jurisdiction on pro-bono matters as a Young Lawyer still struggling for survival, how do I cope, since all the expenses are all on me, where is the encouragement.

Adetola-Kazeem: Everyone should know his or her limits, do only what your finances and time can allow. You could mess up your client and yourself if you bite more than you can chew.

Questioner: Lawyers that are paid abandon their criminal matters and pro bono lawyers are forced to take it up.

Adetola-Kazeem: That is professional misconduct. I think the NBA should take it up against such lawyers to set examples.

Questioner:

The part that resonates with me is the Prison Vocational/ Entrepreneurial/Educational Empowerment.

  1. How do you go about this?
  2. Is the education like distant-learning? Are they attached to any school within the jurisdiction?
  3. What steps do your organization take to reintegrate them into society.
  4. Are they provided with tools of trade upon release?(in the cases of vocational Empowerment)
  5. Who teaches them these vocations?
  6. Who are the recipients of the vocational Empowerment? I mean do you concentrate more on those who have 6 months or less to stay?
  7. Do you have a kind of mentorship program among inmates where inmates with some kind of skills can teach others interested in learning? Like Prison Apprenticeship Program, which could sow seeds of leadership in their minds.

 

ADETOLA-KAZEEM:

  1. How do you go about this?

*You need proper planning, permission from those in charge of the facility, your team and financial resources to carry out the activities. At PRAI, we make use of volunteer teachers and we pay them stipends for transportation to ensure consistency. We established the first school at the Ijebu-Ode Custodial Centre and provided the furniture and stationary for takeoff.

We currently run the Career, Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Character Training (C-LECT) at Juvenile Correctional Centres in Lagos, we shall be expanding to other states after COVID-19 by God’s grace.

  1. Is the education like distant-learning? Are they attached to any school within the jurisdiction?

The tertiary education is distant-learning. Inmates attend the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) many have bagged Degrees, Masters and we have the first set of PhD students.

For Primary and Secondary, they have schools established for this in the facilities. The Primary Schools are ran as adult literacy classes.

  1. What steps do your organization take to reintegrate them into society?

We only deal with those we have known while they were in custody, either those we represented or those who took part in any of our trainings. When they are released we either raise funds to set up their desired business or we get them a job. In the past 3 years about 15 inmates have benefited from our interventions.

 

We also provide psychosocial support to help them stabilize. Last year we organized a post-prison assessment programme which had about 20 ex-inmates in attendance.

  1. Are they provided with tools of trade upon release?(in the cases of vocational Empowerment)

The Nigeria Correctional Service has an Aftercare department that provides this, but only ex-convicts are catered for, unfortunately this intervention is not regular. PRAI tries to fill the gap by supporting ATIs, we have supported about two ex-convicts in this regard. Some of the participants were provided with tool.

  1. Who teaches them these vocations?

The Correctional Service Officers, Inmates and Volunteers from various organizations.

  1. Who are the recipients of the vocational Empowerment? I mean do you concentrate more on those who have 6 months or less to stay?

In 2018 we organized a Pre-release assessment programme and our focus was on inmates due for release in the next succeeding three months. We were able to capture and support some of them.

  1. Do you have a kind of mentorship program among inmates where inmates with some kind of skills can teach others interested in learning? Like Prison Apprenticeship Program, which could sow seeds of leadership in their minds.

Yes, that is the standard in the Prison workshops. They have a skilled staff who is the overall head, and they have Inmates who form the bulk of those impacting the skills on apprentice inmates.

 

_ END _

 

To know about what we do at PRAI visit:

www.prai.org.ng

Facebook: @PRAInitiative

Twitter: @PRAInigeria

Instagram: @PRAInigeria[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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PRAI Donates Relief Materials to Correctional Centre for Senior Boys, Isheri Lagos

PRAI donated relief materials to Correctional Centre for Senior Boys, Isheri today. The Principal of the Centre was at our office to receive the items.

We have now effectively supported all five Juvenile Correctional Centres established by the Lagos State Government and all three Federally owned Juvenile Correctional Centres in Abeokuta, Ilorin and Kaduna.
PRAI is grateful for the immense support received from donors.
Support us to do more:
ACCOUNT DETAILS:
A/C No: 0429327480
A/C Name: Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative(Projects)
Bank: GTbank.

 

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PRAI DONATE RELIEF SUPPLIES TO BORSTAL INSTITUTION KADUNA

PRAI was at Borstal Institution Kaduna on Saturday 2nd May 2020 to donate some food items and toiletries.  The Principal of the Institution expressed his gratitude orally and through a letter of appreciation on behalf of the Nigeria Correctional Service and the 316 boys in the Centre.

The relief effort was spearheaded by the Kaduna State PRAI coordinator, Mr. Abdul Malik Mohammed for the superb coordination of the exercise.

 

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PRAI SPEARHEAD RELIEF EFFORTS FOR JUVENILE CORRECTIONAL CENTRES AMIDST COVID19 PANDEMIC

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css_animation=”fadeIn”]PRAI through its Juvenile Justice Support Programme is leading a nationwide effort at providing succour to Juvenile Correctional Centres in Lagos, Ogun, Kwara and Kaduna States in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic outbreak.

The lockdown and restriction of access to Correctional Facilities is bringing untold hardship to children in the centres. Parents who bring provisions to the centres to supplement staple food provided by Government and NGOs that provide toiletries have stopped coming.
In view of the absence of support from any quarters, PRAI has been raising funds and providing relief materials like food stuffs, beverages and toiletries to the centres.
We have provided support for the following centres:
1. Special Correctional Centre for Boys,  Oregun, Lagos State.
2  Special Correctional Centre for Girls, Idi-Araba, Lagos State.
3. Borstal Institution, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
4. Borstal Institution, Ilorin  Kwara State.
In the next few days we shall be supporting:
1. Borstal Institution, Kaduna, Kaduna State
2. Correctional Centre for Girls, Idi-Araba, Lagos State.
3. Correctional Centre for Boys, Yaba, Lagos.
We hope to sustain the intervention till the end of the pandemic subject to the availability of funds.

 

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PRAI COMMENCES CHARACTER LEADERSHIP, ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND CAREER TRAINING (C-LECT) PROGRAMME AT JUVENILE CORRECTIONAL CENTRES

Early January we reached out to children in 4 different juvenile centres in Nigeria. We empowered them with key leadership and life skills. We also equipped them with design thinking skills and they created solutions to many of the societal problems. The response was great and we were inspired by the children, the level of intelligence they possess and the potential to make a difference in the 21st-century world. We decided to include C-LECT (career, leadership, entrepreneurship and character training) into our curriculum. This is a 7 week-long program that deepens the knowledge of children at the juvenile centers in leadership, career development, and character training.

We had the first pilot today at Oregun Correctional Centre for Boys and Idi-Araba Correctional Centre for girls. We employed the training of trainers approach and we had 50 students representative in each class. We Introduced them to personal and servant leadership. We brought in seasoned leadership experts/youth educators. They learned about how they can lead themselves first. You can’t give what you don’t have one of the speakers said. The students learned how to develop a mission statement, vision statement, core values, and importance of time management. Student-Teacher (Midway) or Discussion method of teaching was employed. “Leadership is not being in charge but taking care of the people you are in charge of.” One of the things they went home with. We also learned about the concept of servant leadership and they learned that before they can make decisions for others, they have to put people first.

They had readings from the book “The Africa I Dream To See” to enhance their literacy skills and to also encourage them to take action and find their African Dream. Several inferences and analogies were drawn from the book on leadership.

It was an exciting moment, as the session ended with a leadership game titled “Unlocking the circle”. Some set of students formed a circle, held each other’s hands and tried to change positions without hurting others and their hands locked. It was really interesting to see how students learned about some key leadership skills throughout the game.

To end the session, we had three students share their reflections from the session and summarized what they have learned.

Students also commit themselves to cascade to other students within the centre and commit to reading the introduction and chapter one of The Africa I Dream To See before the next class which holds next Saturday.

We appreciate Hammed Kayode Alabi for playing a huge role in the conceptualization of this project and also facilitating the first session for the boys. We also appreciate Ennie Sophie Oluwa for facilitating the first session for the girls.

Failed parenting leading kids to correctional homes –Adetola-Kazeem

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]he Director, Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative, Mr Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem, has said failed parenting is the reason majority of the children in borstal homes or correctional centres ended up there.

He said PRAI’s engagements, under its Juvenile Justice Support Programme, had shown that the borstal homes abound in raw talents and brilliant minds waiting to be harnessed.

Adetola-Kazeem said with the right help, the children, considered errant today, would turn around to become responsible citizens, making positive contributions to the society.

He spoke with The PUNCH at the weekend during PRAI’s mentoring visit to the Special Correctional Centre for Boys, Oregun and the Children Correctional Centre for Girls, Idi-Araba, Lagos.

The Saturday visit to borstal homes in Lagos came a week after PRAI visited the Nigeria Correctional Service, Borstal Institution, Adigbe, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The programme featured a motivation speaking session with two Mandela Washington fellows, Onyedikachi Ekwerike and Amaka Ijiko, who shared their grass-to-grass stories with the boys and girls to inspire them. The children themselves made group presentations on topics ranging from sexual abuse to cultism during a speaking competition.

During a panel discussion, the children were enlightened on how to discover their talents and commercialise same.

The children, who also had an indoors games session, were fed by PRAI during the visit.

Speaking on the essence of the initiative, Adetola-Kazeem said, “In the past, PRAI worked with adult inmates in the conventional correctional centres but during a chance visit to a borstal institution I realised that the younger ones actually need us more because many of them are here because of the failings of their parents and the society at large.

“How do we now ensure that they get out of here as better persons and do not return to crimes? The essence is to give them an orientation that ensures a crime-free future.

“From our interactions in the borstal institutions that we have visited, we saw that there are lot of talents that need to be harnessed and what we have seen here today (Saturday) has reconfirmed that fact. The children have a bright future ahead of them but they need people to support them.”

On what parents and society could do better to raise responsible children, Adetola-Kazeem said, “Everybody can’t be rich but everybody can be responsible. We need more responsible parents that understand that children need to be properly guided.

“A parent that leaves home at 4am and returns at 11pm, what kind of children are they expected to raise? Children that are being taught through television and by peers or by parents who engage in vices, what kind of children do you think they will turn out to be? So, it is a failing of perenting and these children identified this fact during a speaking competition we organised for them.

“But irrespective of what their parents have done, how do we ensure that they live responsible lives? What support can we give as members of the society to ensure that they live as responsible members of the society and that is the gap we are trying to fill.”

The Principal, Special Correctional Centre for Boys, Oregun, Mr Salau Wasiu, said the centre was open to collaboration with PRAI and other like-minded institutions as “it will go a long way in shaping the lives of the children.”

Wasiu said, “In this place, we have raw talents that need to be harnessed because most of these children are children of circumstance. Their journey leading here may not be their fault; often it is a result of broken homes. Whether we like it or not, they are part of the future of this country and which is why we must help them.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Group sues Fed Govt over custodial centre’s congestion

A non-governmental organisation, the Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative (PRAI), has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to compel the Federal Government to build more custodial centres in Lagos.

It is praying for a declaration that the overcrowded state of the Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Centre, where some inmates were electrocuted, is unconstitutional.

According to PRAI, congestion violates the inmates’ fundamental right to freedom from degrading treatment guaranteed by Section 34(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The group said the Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Centre was built in 1955 to accommodate 800 inmates, but held about 3,113 inmates as at December 3.

The Federal Government, Attorney-General of the Federation, Minister of Interior, Nigerian Correctional Service Controller-General, Lagos State Controller, Lagos Attorney-General and the Chief Judge of Lagos are the respondents.

The plaintiff said the overcrowding also violates Section 12(8) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019, which prohibits keeping inmates in a custodial centre that has exceeded its capacity.

PRAI said the congestion breaches the Federal Government’s duties under Rules 1, 12 and 13 the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners (as revised in 2015) to maintain the minimum standard of accommodation of inmates, as well other statutes.

PRAI is seeking “a declaration that the arrest and continued remand, without proper arraignment and trial in a court of competent jurisdiction, of all inmates as of the day of judgment in this application, who have been in custody beyond the maximum imprisonment terms of the respective offences they have been charged is unlawful and unconstitutional as it violates their fundamental right to personal liberty and freedom of movement as guaranteed by Sections 35(1)(f) and 41 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)”.

It wants the court to order the release of all such inmates.

PRAI urged the court to hold that the dearth of functional basic amenities, including vocational and recreational centres, health facilities, as well as failure to keep safe and conducive custody of inmates, which resulted in the electrocution incident, all breach the inmates’ rights.

PRAI sought an order compelling the Federal Government to keep the Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Centre in the good shape by providing the necessary vocational, educational, recreational health facilities.

It further prayed the court to order the Federal Government to build more correctional facilities in the Lagos within 12 months from the date judgment is delivered.

The suit has been assigned to Justice Mohammed Liman and is fixed for January 13.

PRAI, in a December 11 letter to the Minister of Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, called for a thorough investigation of the Ikoyi Custodial Centre electrocution incident.

It urged the Federal Government to pay at least N10million compensation to the verified next of kin.

At least five inmates were electrocuted at the centre last December 2; about 10 others were injured.

PRAI, through its Executive Director Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem, commended the minister for visiting the scene to personally assess the situation, and to suspend some officers to aid the investigation.

The non-governmental organisation, which advocates for prisoners’ rights, said the investigative findings should be made public.

It called for the sanctioning of those found culpable, to serve as a deterrent to others and to forestall a re-occurrence.

PRAI further urged the Federal Government to “disclose the identity of all the deceased and injured victims”.

It added: “This will ensure transparency and proper representation for those of them who may be lacking one at the moment.”

PRAI urged the Federal Government to “pay adequate compensation to families of the deceased inmates and those injured”.

“Nothing less than N10 million should be paid to verified next of kin of the deceased inmates as compensation for the loss of their loved ones.

“We shall be recommending payment of at least N3milion to the injured depending on the gravity of the injury.

“The injured should also be unconditionally released upon consideration of the offence they have been alleged to have committed and the gravity of the injury sustained.”