The Federal Government has inaugurated a Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy, aimed at decongesting prisons in the country.
The inauguration was done by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha on Tuesday in Abuja.
Mustapha was represented at the brief ceremony by theAttorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), who is the chairman of the committee.
He said, “The significance of an occasion like this goes beyond the ceremony itself; it gives a signal for the members so inaugurated to brace up with the responsibility embedded in the assignment.
“The committee is a four-year tenured committee constituted to assist Mr. President in the discharge of his constitutional responsibility of not only granting pardon to deserving prisoners and ex-convicts and reintegrating them into the society but also to work towards decongesting the prisons nationwide,”
The AGF stressed that the responsibility of the committee is sensitive and enormous, he said that the purpose for its constitution and its guiding principles must be completely adhered to.
He said that the terms of reference of the committee are statutory and constitutionally as they are enshrined in Section 175 of the 1999 Constitution.
“The inauguration today enables you to kick start the processes leading to nationwide prison visits and consequent recommendation of eligible ex-convicts and convicts for presidential pardon.” he stated
In his remark, a member of the committee and Permanent Secretary in the Special Duties office, Williams Alo, recalled that the President reconstituted the committee on the 19th of June, 2018.
Section 175 of the 1999 Constitution on Prerogative of mercy reads “(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.
“(2) The powers of the President under subsection (1) of this section shall be exercised by him after consultation with the Council of State.
(3) The President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, may exercise his powers under subsection (1) of this section in relation to persons concerned with offences against the army, naval or air-force law or convicted or sentenced by a court-martial.” it stated
The 12-man committee include AGF Abubakar Malami (Chairman), Williams Alo, Lucy Ajayi, Joshua Abu, John Idoko, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, representative of the Nigerian Prisons Service and a representative of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).