The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on Tuesday in Abuja, inaugurated the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy to decongest prisons nationwide.
Mustapha, who was represented by Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation, said that the committee was to assist President Muhammadu Buhari in discharging his constitutional responsibilities.
He added that the constitutional responsibility entailed granting pardon to deserving inmates and ex-convicts and ensuring a decongested prisons in the country.
He said: “The PACPM is an administrative committee established to assist the president in granting pardon to inmates and ex-convicts.
“The reconstitution of the committee as approved by Mr. President will go a long way in bringing about drastic reduction in the population of prisoners in the nation’s prison system that has become a blot on the nations’ criminal justice system.”
He noted that the responsibility of the committee was sensitive and enormous, urging them to start by visiting prisons across the country.
According to him, their Terms of Reference was statutory as constituted in the Nigerian Constitution, Section 175 (1) Prerogative of Mercy.
“(1) The President may – (a) grant any person concerned with or convicted of any offence created by an Act of the National Assembly a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions;
“(b) grant to any person a respite, either for an indefinite or for a specified period, of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence;
“(c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence; or
“(d) remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the State on account of such an offence.”
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who spoke on behalf of the members of the committee, assured the government that they would deliver on their mandate.
The I-G, who was represented by Shehu Lawal, Force CID, stated that at the end of their assignment, Nigerian prisons would be decongested.
Idris said: “We will take this assignment seriously, ensuring that the rule of law is applied. We will do our job assiduously and deliver as expected of us.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the committee was made up of 11 members and it is for a four-year tenure with Abubakar Malami as the Chairman.
The members of the committee were drawn from various organisations, such as the Christian Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Prisons Service, National Human Rights Commission, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation among others.