Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for putting a mechanism in place to decongest prisons in the country and for setting the nation’s criminal justice system on the right track, especially in addressing the high number of inmates awaiting trial.
Receiving the presidential advisory committee on prerogative of mercy, in his office yesterday, Bello assured that the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) would work with the committee and other bodies set up by the president to decongest the prisons and fast track trials.
He also commended the committee for the noble work it is doing, adding that the administration would continue to partner with all the agencies handling the prison system, with the aim of decongesting the prisons and saving inmates who, for no fault of theirs, have over-stayed in the prisons.
Bello praised the minister of interior, Abdurrahman Dambazau, for implementing the prison reform and for improving the welfare of inmates, infrastructure, as well as the purchase of vehicles for movement of prisoners to the courts.
While assuring the necessary support to achieve its mandate, the minister advised the committee to work with traditional rulers and area council chairmen in the FCT to identify prisoners deserving of presidential mercy.
Earlier in his address, the vice chairman of the committee/leader of the delegation, Mr. William Alo, explained that the main purpose of the visit was to identify and recommend inmates in the FCT that should receive presidential pardon.
Alo, who is also the permanent secretary, special duties, Office of the Secretary General of the Federation (OSGF), noted that the committee was guided by the criteria that only deserving inmates are considered for presidential pardon, adding that it can also recommend a less severe form of punishment imposed on a convict.
He disclosed that the committee has so far visited 11 states and have considered cases of convicts and ex-convicts using laid down criteria to ensure that only deserving persons were considered for the pardon.
He said following recommendation of the committee, the president is expected to grant pardon to deserving inmates after due consultation with the National Council of States.