The Nasarawa State governor, Umaru Al-Makura, on Friday granted pardon to 63 prisoners serving various jail terms including a convicted armed robber, under the prerogative of mercy.
Mr Al-Makura, represented by his deputy Silas Agara announced this at a ceremony in Lafia adding that his administration was committed to decongesting prisons in the state.
Elijah Wase, the convicted armed robber who was serving a 21-year jail term for armed robbery, expressed gratitude to God and the state governor for granting him pardon.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria that he only spent two out of his 21-year jail term.
“I give God all the glory for what he has done in my life today, out of the five of us involved in the robbery operation, four were killed and I survived by the mercy of God.
“I found God while in prison and he changed my life for good and I will encourage other inmates to look up to God and be of good behaviour in order to obtain his mercy,” Mr Wase said.
The governor said government was concerned over growing number of inmates across the five prisons in the state, saying that the administration would partner relevant agencies to ensure the prisons were decongested.
“The gesture is aimed at achieving dual purpose of decongesting prisons in the state as well as providing opportunities for the freed prisoners to reunite with their loved ones for proper reintegration into the society,” Mr Al-Makura said.
The governor noted that acts of criminality were threats to the internal security of any nation, hence the enactment of laws and appropriate sanctions for offenders in order to ensure a safe society.
“However, we must realise the need for reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of errant citizens so that punishment does not become counter-productive.
“It is in this connection that when our attention was recently drawn to the case of prison inmates, who deserve the state prerogative of mercy and those convicted with option of fines but could not pay, we decided to intervene,” Mr Al-Makura said.
He said the inmates being granted pardon had shown improvement in their conducts and character in the course of serving their jail terms.
Mr Al-Makura urged the freed inmates to accept their experience as part of destiny and to engage in productive venture after returning home.
Also speaking, the state Chief Judge, Suleiman Dikko, charged the freed inmates to desist from acts capable of returning them back to prison.
Mr Dikko, was represented by Justice Mustapha Rahman.