By Benjamin Nworie
Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, has unconditionally granted pardon to 33 convicted prison inmates serving different jail terms at the Abakaliki and Afikpo Correctional Centres.
Briefing journalist in Abakaliki, the State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the State, Mr. Cletus Ofoke said that the decision to pardon the inmates was in line with the federal government policy to decongest the Correctional Centres.
The Attorney General said that the pardon followed recommendations of the state advisory council adding that the convicts includes both male and female with cases ranging from stealing, burglary, assault to occasioning bodily harm among others.
He noted that those on death row at the different Correctional Centres in the state were not considered.
“The Governor in his averred determination to decongest the Correctional Centre in the Ebonyi State and guided by the recommendations of the state advisory council on prerogative of mercy has granted unconditional pardon and clemency has granted to 33 convicts serving various terms in the Correctional Centres in Abakailiki and Afikpo in Ebonyi State.
“His Excellency in line with the federal government directive to decongest the prisons following the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus disease which the entire world is fighting so that it won’t escalate in the country. Governor Umahi believes that the idea of social distancing which is being preached in the state may not be attained if the Correctional facilities in the state were not decongested.
“The social distancing will not be attained because of the way the inmates are arranged at the centre and has urged the convicts so pardoned to be accepted by their relatives, villages and families.
He also noted that the state governor had also factored the convicts into the State empowerment program so as to better their lives and make them self-sufficient, adding that those pardoned would not pose a threat to the society but would contribute to the development of the state.
The Commissioner for Justice noted that the state Governor had earlier at the Abakaliki stadium, released over 100 persons arrested for the violation of the COVID 19 laws of the state adding that pardon of the convict was prerogative of mercy as enshrined in the constitution.
The State Attorney General pointed out that the pardon granted to the convicts would not increase the crime rate In the state adding that those granted pardon were inmates who has shown enough remorse and were ascertain to have been of good behaviour at the Correctional Center.
He commended the State Governor, Chief David Umahi and the State advisory council for the decision to decongest the prisons adding that the state government would continue to fight against the spread of coronavirus pandemic into the state vigorously.