Ahead of the October 1 celebration of Nigeria’s 61 Independence Anniversary, no fewer than 320 Nigeria’s prisoners have sought pardon from President Muhammadu Buhari.
The convicts are said to be serving in various prison divisions across the country upon their conviction from offences by courts.
Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami revealed this on Tuesday in Abuja in a statement made available to our correspondent.
The Justice Minister said the prisoners whose names were not made public applied for Presidential pardon through their lawyers.
President Buhari is expected to make a national broadcast on Friday, October 1 during which policy statements are expected to be made including the pardon of prisoners considered to deserve such a gesture.
To guide Buhari in making a well-informed decision on the issue of prisoners pardon, Malami explained that the Presidential Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy (PACPM) had been ordered to convene a special meeting and make necessary recommendations to the Presidency.
Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria said the committee will move around the prisons in the country, scrutinize individual records of the prisoners and turn their recommendation to Buhari before the Independence Anniversary Day.
The Minister noted that the committee Secretariat was being inundated with a myriad of requests on behalf of some convicts in custodial centres across the country.
According to the AGF, it has become expedient for the committee to be reconvened to carry out its duty again.
The federal government had in 2018 constituted the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy on June 19, 2018, with AGF Malami as the chairman.
Consequently, the Council of State at its meeting held on Thursday the 27th of August, 2020, considered, ratified and validated the grant of the Presidential Pardon.
While the first phase of the exercise lasted, 2 inmates got Presidential Pardon, 39 got clemency and 4 ex-convicts were granted Presidential Pardon.
He said, “The core mandate of the committee is that of assisting Mr. President in the discharge of his constitutional responsibility of granting Pardon and Clemency to convicts or ex-convicts in deserving cases and reintegrating them back into the society.
“The move is geared towards decongesting Correctional Centres and discharge the role constitutionally bestowed in him in line with Section 175 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Malami then charged the committee to carry out the assignment objectively in the public interest and the interest of Justice.
The Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs and member of the committee, Senator George Akume noted that the reconvening of the committee would go a long way in bringing about a drastic reduction in the population of inmates in the nation’s Correctional Centres.
Akume who expressed worry about the situation added that the menace has become a stain on the nation’s Criminal Justice System.
Responding on behalf of the Committee, Ambassador Anthonia Ekpa who praised Buhari’s initiative assured that the committee shall justify the confidence reposed on it.