Bauchi Governor Bala Frees 153 Inmates

0
439
Bala Mohammed

By; MOHAMMED KAWU, Bauchi

A number of 153 inmates across the various correctional centres in Bauchi State on Friday, regained freedom, following a state pardon granted them by Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed in commemoration of the 62nd Nigerian Independence Anniversary celebrated nationwide penultimate week

The Executive Pardon followed the powers vested on the governor under the provisions of section 212 (1) and (2) of the Constitutional of Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended) and in consonance with the State Prerogative of Mercy.

Speaking shortly after granting the state pardon to the beneficiaries at the Government House, Bauchi, Governor Bala Mohammed said that he pardoned 153 inmates who were hitherto serving jail terms based on the powers vested on him in the Nigerian Constitution.

He explained that the decision to pardon the inmates was informed by a careful review of their records by the Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy which confirmed their determination to become good citizens that would be useful to themselves and the society at large.

According to the governor, part of the criteria adopted by the committee in coming up with the list of pardoned convicts include old age, terminal sickness, convicts having less than three months to complete their jail term and those who were to pay their victims compensation of less than thirty thousand Naira.

Granting of pardon to the inmates, he stated, was part of his administration’s resolve and determination to ensure decongestion of correctional centres in the state, stressing that as administration cares about the poorest and most vulnerable people, it is fully committed to ensuring total justice reforms for equity and justice to all.

While reiterating the state government’s commitment towards ensuring speedy dispensation of criminal justice, the governor expressed the believe that the pardon is borne out of the need to make the constitution as humanely as possible and relieve the inmates of the stress and trauma associated with being in jail. 

Mohammed personally off-set the fines/penalties of the affected inmates, saying “I strongly believe that as an administration, we should not criminalize poverty by putting offenders into jail for many years, just because they could not pay fines or compensation of as little as N5, 000. Poverty should not be a crime. Our justice system must treat both the rich and poor equally.

“My administration has recognized that accessing justice can often be an expensive process fraught with barriers and delays. From investigation to appeal, money is required. If you are poor, it is hard to either pursue your constitutional rights that you are entitled to as a citizen of this state and this nation, or to defend yourself against allegations”.

The Governor added, “This issue has been further exacerbated by the fact that legal aid schemes and probono legal service provided by NGOs, lawyers and well to do citizens to enhance access to justice in many places, are no longer available in most places in Nigeria.”

Senator Bala Mohammed then empowered each of the freed 153 inmates with 50,000 to start a business for self-reliant, called on them to henceforth, be law abiding citizens by taking the advantage of the various empowerment windows provided by his administration for poverty alleviation. 

He also directed the Secretary to the State Government and the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice to work with the Judiciary and other law enforcement agencies to propose a committee that will comprehensively examine the system of administration of justice and make policy reform proposals that will enhance the administration of civil and criminal justice system in the state.

The State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Barrister Abubakar Abdulhamid Bununu has earlier in a welcome address described the occasion as an epoch making event for the promotion of peaceful co-existence and harmonious relationship, especially between the state government and its subjects.

The Bauchi Justice Commissioner tasked and encouraged the freed inmates to henceforth be law-abding citizens, especially having benefitted from this humane empowerment by the State Governor in the form of monetary assistance which would go a long way in helping them start a business for self-reliance.

Barrister Abubakar Bununu said that all the compensations on the hitherto inmates awarded by the various courts on several offences committed by them have been paid by the governor out of his pocket, thereby exhibiting his kindness, magnanimity and benevolence, and enjoined other citizens to emulate the commendable gesture, which identities are among the attributes of the noble Creator.

Bununu, also the chairman of council on the prerogative of mercy, described the pardon as a step taken at right time and in the right direction, and appreciated the cooperation given by the controller of the correctional services and the entire management for the diligent discharge of their official duties.

Controller of the Bauchi State Correctional Services, Aliyu Abubakar Bagoja who also spoke at the occasion, described the pardon of the inmates as the best way of decongesting the correctional centres, said the number of the governor’s executive pardon is one of the largest in the country in recent times 

Bajoga while appreciating the support of the state government to the service in state, appealed to Governor Bala Mohammed to support the Bauchi custodial centre by equipping its vocational and technical units for the training of inmates on different skills.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here