By Tony Okechukwu
Governor Samuel Ortom, Tuesday, inaugurated the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy with a charge on members to identify those qualified for pardon and recommend them to him for prompt action.
The Governor stated that Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) confers on him the powers to free or reduce the sentence of any convict, saying he was ready to give many opportunities to turn a new leaf.
He lamented the high level of congestion in the Nigerian Prisons, stressing that some inmates may afterall, not be guilty of charges against them, pointing out that genuine cases should be considered by the committee for his action.
Governor Ortom stated that when last he visited the Prisons in Makurdi, he wept when he saw both the old and young in such a congested facility, saying he would support the council to perform its duties based on set standard.
He advised the youth not to be in a hurry to make it in life and never to resort to waywardness, stressing that the road to success was characterised by thick and thin and only possible with determination, dedication, honesty, hardwork and above all, God’s design and mercies.
While congratulating the council members on their selection, Governor Ortom charged them against any act of corruption that could jeopardise their work, stressing however that they were people of proven integrity whom he believed would not betray the confidence reposed in them.
The State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Michael Gusa, who is chairman of the council while responding on behalf of other members, pledged their commitment to deliver on the enormous task ahead of them.
Barrister Gusa stated while answering questions from journalists that in the last exercise in 2015, over five hundred inmates were attended to ranging from reduction of jail term, payment of fines and complete pardon.
Other members of the council include Bishop Nathan Nyom, Rev. Fr. Remigius Ihula who represents the Catholic Bishop of Makurdi Diocese, Imam Umar Shuaibu, Dr. Gajir Hembaor Tsoho, Comptroller of Prisons Benue State as well as Director, Public Prosecutions, Benue State.