Governors Extend Mercy Over 500 Inmates Granted Pardon in Eight Months
In an ongoing endeavor to alleviate the chronic overcrowding in Nigerian correctional centers, both current and former governors have granted clemency to a staggering 536 inmates across 240 custodial facilities between January and August 2023, as reported recently.
As disclosed in the latest inmate population summary on the Nigerian Correctional Service’s official website, the nation’s correctional facilities currently house a total of 80,883 inmates. Of this number, a substantial 55,257 are enduring the agonizing wait for their trials, while 25,626 have already been convicted.
This concerted effort to tackle the dire issue of overcrowding has witnessed numerous governors taking decisive actions. For instance, on June 12, Governor Umaru Bago of Niger State extended clemency to 80 inmates scattered across various correctional centers. Additionally, he ensured the prompt payment of their fines, thus expediting their reintegration into society and reunification with their families.
Similarly, on June 2, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, acting on the recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy, granted clemency to 49 inmates hailing from various correctional facilities within the state.
The month of May witnessed Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State announcing the release of 49 inmates, and former Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom’s noble act of pardoning eight individuals on death row, along with 13 others serving life sentences.
The compassionate approach also extended to Yobe State, where Governor Mai Buni, on May 27, granted clemency to 115 prisoners, thoughtfully selected from diverse correctional centers in the state.
Further underscoring the commitment to reducing the prison population, former Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello, on May 26, granted pardons to 24 convicts, including those facing the ominous specter of the death penalty. Moreover, he magnanimously paid N20 million in fines to secure the release of an additional 80 inmates.
In April, former Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje granted clemency to 43 inmates who were serving various sentences within the state. March saw Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, conducting an impactful visit to correctional centers across the state, leading to the release of 45 inmates.
While these acts of clemency represent commendable steps toward addressing the issue of overcrowding in correctional facilities, security expert Kabir Adamu underscored the need for vigilant oversight and a robust system of checks and balances to ensure that the process is conducted transparently and with integrity.
These governors’ actions reflect a collective endeavor to alleviate the chronic overcrowding in correctional facilities, offering a renewed chance at freedom and reintegration into society for many inmates. However, the importance of maintaining transparency and fairness throughout this process cannot be overstated, as it remains essential to achieving the desired goals.