Governor Douye Diri, of Bayelsa state has granted amnesty to nine inmates of the Nigeria Correctional Centre, Okaka, in Yenagoa, the State capital.
Diri who announced the gesture when he visited the centre on Tuesday, noted that he had constitutional powers to grant such favour based on recommendations from the Committee on Prerogative of Mercy.
While addressing the freed inmates, the governor advised them to change their ways and become responsible members of society.
He expressed displeasure over the number of inmates in custody, adding that the only way the centre could be decongested is through reduction in crime in the state.
He said: “Whereas you have all made written applications seeking for this discretionary exercise by the government of Bayelsa State, and having consultated with the Committee on Prerogative of Mercy and in accordance with the laws of Bayelsa State and in exercise of my constitutional powers as the governor of Bayelsa State, I hereby grant you mercy.
“I do not believe we should have this centre congested with our brothers and sisters.
“In other words, the propensity for crime and criminality must be reduced. That is the only way we can decongest the Okaka Correctional Centre.
“If we grant amnesty and there is still the propensity to continue in crime, no amount of jail delivery can decongest this prison.
“My advice to you is that you change your ways. Change your approach to life and become responsible members of society and contribute to the good image of Bayelsa state,” he said.
In her remarks, the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Kate Abiri, thanked the governor for the visit and expressed optimism that he would help de-congest the centre.
She noted that the Chief Justice of the Federation was concerned about congested centres in the country, adding that, in line with that, she had embarked on jail delivery exercises.
According to her, as the Chief Judge, her power to release prisoners are limited to “not-too-serious” cases that have lingered, saying that “only the governor has the constitutional power to grant amnesty.”
She also thanked governor Diri for constituting the Committee on Prerogative of Mercy and for heeding the advice to carry out his constitutional duty.
The Chief Judge who expressed delight that it was the first time since her tenure, that a governor of the state physically carried out the exercise, appreciated Diri for granting amnesty to the inmates and for decongesting the cemtre.
Earlier, the Comptroller of the Okaka Correctional Center, Seth Edoughotu, commended the governor for rehabilitating the road leading to the centre and for donating an operational vehicle that has assisted the centre to perform optimally.