Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has granted pardon to 50 prisoners as part of move to decongest the prisons to checkmate the spread of Coronavirus.
Twelve of the prisoners were inmates of Kotonkarffi Correctional Centre in Kogi State, who refused to abscond when security of the centre was compromised by flooding in October last year.
The governor, in a statement issued on Wednesday said the COVID-19 pandemic had compelled extraordinary steps by nations and territories to slow or halt the spread of the disease, adding that one of such steps was the deployment of applicable mechanisms in the administration of criminal justice system, including the Prerogative of Mercy.
According to him,, “In order to curtail or totally avoid the spread of COVID-19 in the Nigerian Correctional Services facilities in our state and across the country the Administration is embarking on this exercise once again to reduce the number of inmates in custody.
“This step has become imperative to reduce overcrowding in our Correctional Services in compliance with the social and physical distancing policies which are the new paradigms in the era of COVID-19.
According to him, this current exercise takes cognisance of the protocols of prevention for the pandemic and thus broadens the scope of beneficiaries.
”It also necessitates the exercise of our prerogative of mercy to a larger group of internees than usual. In all cases, we took scrupulous steps to make sure that only persons who meet the lawful criteria are considered
The Kogi State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, acting in consonance with the provisions of the Kogi State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy Law, 1995 visited several Correctional Services in some States of the Federation where condemned convicts, those serving life sentences and other categories of convicts are kept.
“A careful scrutiny of the applications of the convicts, supporting documents and testimonies given by the Officials in Charge of the various Correctional Services clearly point at the fact that some of the convicts deserve to be given another chance in life.
“In consideration of the foregoing and fully cognizant of the overriding public health and societal objectives, I, Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, under and by virtue of the powers conferred on me by section 212 (1) (a), (b), (c) and (d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) in exercise of my powers of the Prerogative of Mercy, do hereby and on this 19th day of May, 2020, pronounce and declare in the manner hereinafter rendered. 44 convicts serving sentences in Correctional Services situated in Kogi State who either have 1 year to end of sentence and/or whose conduct qualifies them for pardon are granted pardon, while 8 convicts sentenced in Kogi State serving in Custodial Centers situated in Kogi State are ordered to be reduced.
“Also, 12 convicted inmates who refused to abscond or escape from Koton Karfe Custodial Center, Kogi State after its perimeters were breached during a flooding disaster on Monday the 28th day of October, 2019 be reduced. 5 convicts who are serving their sentences in various Custodial Centers across the country are hereby granted pardon while 5 condemned convicts who are serving their respective sentences in various Correctional Centers across the country shall and do hereby have their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment,” he said.