Segun Awofadeji in Gombe
Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, wednesday pardoned 31 prisoners and commuted the death penalty passed on one other convict to 21-year imprisonment.
The convicts got clemency from the governor’s power on prerogative of mercy under Section 212(1) of the 1999 Constitution, sequel to recommendation by the Gombe State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, headed by the state Commissioner of Justice and Attorney-General, Zubair Muhammad Umar.
The council had earlier received 71 applications by convicts serving sentences in Gombe Medium Security and other Custodial Centres at Bajoga, Billiri, Cham and Tula.
The council took into consideration the old age of applicants (50 years and above), young persons (16 years and below) and persons serving three-year and above with less than six months to serve and record of good behaviour.
Others are persons suffering from terminal illness and those serving long term sentences and have served more than 10 years and have record of good behaviour.
Meanwhile, the governor has given reasons why the Christian community in the state missed out from participating in 2019 pilgrimage to Israel.
Yahaya had come under heavy criticism for unequal treatment of different religious adherents which resulted in the failure of the state government’s sponsorship of the 2019 Christian pilgrimage to Israel.
But, the governor while receiving the Christian faithful who paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House in Gombe yesterday said: “As a Muslim, I held the Qur’an and swore to do justice to all people, and so, if I do otherwise, I will face God and be held responsible for my actions.”
He explained that his administration met a huge debt of over N280 million inherited from the immediate past administration for previous pilgrimage exercises which needed to be cleared.
He noted that Christian pilgrimage to Israel from Gombe State had been a yearly programme in the past, assuring that his administration would continue the programme, saying “since we couldn’t make it for the 2019 pilgrimage, I assure you that we will not miss the 2020 Easter pilgrimage.”
While expressing his happiness over the relative peace that was being enjoyed in the state which he said was the reason why there’s an influx of people from neighbouring states, he called on Gombe people to join hands and cooperate with security agents to keep the state peaceful.
He then announced a donation of N10 million gift to Gombe State Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Earlier, CAN Chairman in Gombe State, Rev Ibrahim Joda, who led other Christian faithful, told the governor that there was no way Christians in the state would fight the incumbent administration, having played a prominent role in bringing the government into power.
He tasked the governor to be fair to Muslims and Christians, including the three senatorial zones of the state.
The CAN chairman said a special prayer for the governor and his administration after which he presented a Holy Bible and Our Daily Manna (a Christian devotional book), challenging him to “read the Bible to prove all things about Christianity.”