President Muhammadu Buhari has granted posthumous pardon to a foremost nationalist, Anthony Enahoro, who moved the motion for independence in 1953 and the former governor of the Bendel State (now Edo and Delta States), Prof. Ambrose Ali who the president.
The minister of interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola who disclosed this at a news conference at the Nigeria Correctional Service headquarters in Abuja yesterday stated that the president had also approved the release of 2,600 inmates nationwide as part of measures to decongest the correctional facilities and curb the coronavirus spread.
Enahoro who died in December 2010 at 70 was tried for treasonable felony and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment but reduced on appeal.
Ali who was governor from 1978-83 was jailed for 100 years by a military tribunal under President Muhammadu (then military head of state) for alleged misappropriation of N983, 000 road project.
Also granted posthumous state pardon were Lt. Col. Moses Effiong, Major E.J. Olanrewaju and Ajayi Babalola.
Effiong was in 1986 tried and sentenced to death by the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida administration in a coup alleged to have been planned in December 1985.
His death sentence was however commuted to life imprisonment.
Although he was released in 1993, it was not made official and his rank and entitlements were not restored.
The minister said 2,600 inmates were qualified nationwide for the presidential amnesty but they were not federal offenders.
The minister said 70 inmates of the Kuje Custodial Centre were scheduled for release immediately while the remaining 2,530 inmates would be released in collaboration with state governments.
He further said the state governments will be urged to release the inmates in line with the federal government’s guidelines.
“The flag off of presidential pardon of inmates is in continuation of the decongestion of the custodial centres.
“A total number of 2,600 inmates spread across our various custodial centres qualify to benefit from the amnesty.
“These include 885 convicts who could not pay their fines totalling N21.4m, which the government will pay on their behalf to enable them to get their freedom.
“From this number, 41 inmates are federal convicts, two of whom have been granted the pardon.
“Five ex-convicts recommended for presidential pardon had been so pardoned. They are the late Prof. Ambrose Ali, the late Chief Anthony Enahoro, Lt. Col. Moses Effiong, Major E.J. Olanrewaju and Ajayi Olusola Babalola,” he said.
Also speaking, the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said 39 of the inmates were granted clemency, four were in the Kuje Custodial Centre.
Malami said the government’s action was in line with the advice of the United Nations, which encouraged countries of the world to reduce the population of prisons so as to encourage social distancing.
The controller general of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), Mr. Ja’afaru Ahmed, revealed that there were 73,756 inmates in custodial centres nationwide with 51,983 of them on the awaiting trial list.