Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, the outgoing Governor of Niger state, has granted pardons to twenty-four convicts, including those previously sentenced to death.
In an additional act of leniency, he cleared the fines of eighty other prisoners, committing N20m to secure their release. A number of these individuals had been on death row. The state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Nasara Danmallam, announced this on Friday while transitioning the Ministry of Justice’s leadership to its Permanent Secretary.
In Danmallam’s words, “As a farewell gesture, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, under his prerogative of mercy, has granted pardon to 24 inmates across the state. Some of these individuals had been on death row, and their sentences have now been reduced to a few years of imprisonment.”
Among the beneficiaries of this act are six civil servants found guilty of fraud and related offences. Previously dismissed due to their crimes, they will now be reinstated.
The Attorney General clarified, “Those who have reached retirement age will be retired with full benefits.”
Danmallam also shared that the outgoing Governor’s eight-year administration promulgated 115 bills and legal instruments into law.
Additionally, the Ministry initiated a Gender Issues Department designed to manage marital disputes through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
The Department’s Director, Maro Mohammed Mann, reported handling and resolving 1,400 out of 1,500 cases received since 2020, leading to the reunification of many families.
The Power of Mercy: A Farewell Gesture of Freedom
The outgoing Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, has set a significant precedent in the Nigerian justice system with his recent act of mercy. In a society where punitive measures often overshadow opportunities for redemption, Bello’s decision to pardon 24 convicts and pay N20m fines to release 80 additional inmates is a bold step towards a more humane approach to criminal justice.
We must recognise the opposition’s viewpoint: this move could bring individuals who have committed serious offences back into society, thereby posing a risk to public safety. There’s also the question of whether the expenditure on fines is a judicious use of state funds.
Critics argue that such monies could have been invested in education, healthcare, or infrastructure sectors.
However, we must remember that the pardoned individuals include those who were unfairly treated. For example, six civil servants, previously dismissed due to fraud-related offences, have been reinstated.
This restoration of their jobs and subsequent benefits reflects the underlying principle that people can change and deserve a second chance.
More importantly, Bello’s actions challenge a penal system that often fails to deliver justice and instead perpetuates cycles of poverty and crime.
As an alternative, the Governor emphasises rehabilitation and forgiveness – a move other Nigerian states should consider.
We suggest that those in power extend this approach by investing in rehabilitation programs that prepare prisoners for reintegration into society.
Efforts to prevent crime through education and employment opportunities should also be prioritised.
Did You Know?
- Nigeria has a prison population of over 70,000 inmates.
- According to Amnesty International, more than 2,600 people are on death row in Nigeria.
- The Nigerian criminal justice system still struggles with overcrowding and poor prison conditions.
- The Constitution of Nigeria allows a state governor to grant a pardon or commute a sentence.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods are becoming increasingly popular in Nigeria to manage civil and marital disputes.
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