By Steve Oni, Ilorin
The Kwara state governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, has granted state pardon to 20 inmates of the Federal Prison, Okekura, Ilorin, the state capital.
The governor, who visited the prisons as part of activities marking the 50th anniversary of the state, said that the exercise of prerogative of mercy 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 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 areas 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 minimise criminal tendencies.
Ahmed also promised to extend vocational training programmes to prisons in the state in order to empower interested inmates so that they would be profitably engaged as well as 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, Barrister 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.