Sokoto and Kwara states yesterday freed 98 inmates had been freed by their respective state governments. While Sokoto freed 78, Kwara freed 20.
Speaking at a press briefing in Sokoto, the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Suleiman Usman, said it was part of government’s efforts to decongest the prisons in the state.
He stated the present administration had taken measures to decongest the prisons by ensuring speedy trial of cases which were lingering in the courts.
“We have eliminated delay in prosecution of cases, reduce congestion of prison occasioned by large proportion of awaiting trial prisoners through revolutionary use of the Governor’s power of prerogative of mercy and regular prison visit.
“Cases that are frivolous in nature and lack of evidence to prosecute were quashed by the Chief Judge of Sokoto, “he said.
He said over 30 cases had been disposed by death sentence, imprisonment and fine in the past two years.
According to him, over 30 cases had been concluded out of the 228 cases filed in various courts in the state. He said at least 55 cases were currently on appeal before the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division and 14 appeals before the Supreme Court.
The Commissioner pointed out that the present administration had reformed the methodology and character of rendering legal advice.
“We have enthroned cohesive action to improve cooperation and coordination for efficient delivery of service”, Usman added.
Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatta Ahmed said the gesture was part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the state.
He said that, the granting of the state pardon to the affected inmates was based on the belief that those released would abstain from criminal activities and become model citizens who would contribute their quota to the society.
He said that, the visit to the prison was not only a means of correcting mistakes in the process of justice delivery but also provides the opportunity to decongest prisons.
The governor, therefore, called for a reform of the prison system to address the root causes of issues affecting administration of prisons in the country, especially in the area of infrastructure and prisoner rehabilitation.
He assured that the government would continue to put in place policies and programmes that would make the youths productively engaged in order to minimize criminal tendencies.
Ahmed also promised to extend vocational training programme to prisons in the state in order to empower interested inmates so that they will be engaged and effectively reintegrated into the society after serving their sentences.
He advised the pardoned inmates to shun criminal activities, re-integrate into the society and join hand to build a crime free and prosperous society.
The chairman, State Committee on Prerogative of Mercy, Alhaji Kamaldeen Ajibade explained that section 212 of the 1999 constitution as amended empowers the governor to grant pardon to deserving inmates.
Ajibade who is the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice added that the visit was to appraise the condition of the prison and welfare of the inmates to serve as reformatory home.
Earlier, the Controller of Prisons, Kwara State, Mr. Jide Olorunmola had called for the fortification of some sections of Mandala Prisons to accommodate certain inmates, noting that the Prison authorities were favourably disposed to total relocation of Okekura prisons to Mandala area.
He commended Governor Ahmed for being passionate and sensitive to the statutory existence of the prisons.
Five of the pardoned inmates have their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment while others with theft cases were discharged.