Gov. Hyacinth Alia of Benue has granted State Pardon to 12 inmates serving various jail terms at the Federal Maximum Correctional Centre Makurdi.
Alia granted the pardon on Monday, when he visited the Nigerian Correctional Centre Makurdi, the Benue capital.
He charged the pardoned inmates to be of good behaviour as they reintegrated into the society and make use of the skills they acquired while in prison to better their lot.
He explained that they were granted pardon based on his administration’s desire to offer the best to the people, and lamented that most of the inmates were young persons who ordinarily, should not be anywhere near the prison.
He disclosed that among those to be granted state pardon was one Dennis Yogbo, who was dismissed from the state Civil Service about 28 years ago.
He said with the pardon, Yogbo’s dismissal had also been converted to termination of appointment.
“Give your society the very best. And as for the gentleman whose dismissal has been converted to termination of appointment, don’t take any elements of life for granted; demonstrate your newness into your society.
“This should not be home for them. I was quite shocked to see the faces of many young people here, where there are a total of 525 inmates including 25 females, one with a baby, while some came in with pregnancy.” he said.
Alia said his decision was based on the recommendation of the Benue State Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy headed by the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Public Order, Fidelis Mnyim.
Earlier in his remarks, the attorney general and commissioner for justice and public order said the advisory council recommended those that were granted pardon in line with Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution for offences they committed against the state.
Mnyim explained that the inmates granted pardon were from Makurdi, Otukpo and Gboko correctional facilities.
The State Comptroller, Nigeria Correctional Service, Mrs Mary Oche acknowledged the efforts of the government in ensuring that inmates did not stay in the correctional centres unnecessarily.
Oche also commended the governor for providing transportation fares to the inmates to get to their respective destinations and enjoy the New year with their loved ones.
Responding on behalf of the freed inmates, Barnabas Apav, thanked the governor for the gesture and pledged that henceforth, they would be of good behaviour as they got back to the society.
Also Dennis Yogbo, who was granted state pardon, said he had been in prison for 28 years, until God sent Alia to come to his rescue, following the recommendation of the council , after reviewing his case and converting his dismissal to termination.