No fewer than 707 inmates were pardoned by the Federal and state governments between January 1 and December 31, 2022, The PUNCH reports.
This is just as the number of inmates in the various custodial centres across the country rose by 18,805 between 2015 and 2022, a document by the Ministry of Interior has shown.
The report titled, ‘A documentation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration scorecard (2015–2023)’, showed that in 2015, there were 56,704 inmates, but in 2022, the figure increased to 75,509.
It stated that out of this figure, 52,710 inmates, representing 69.8 per cent, are awaiting trial. The figure comprised 51,481 males and 1,229 females.
Similarly, it noted that 3,145 inmates, comprising 3,084 males and 61 females, are on death row.
According to findings by our correspondent, inmates were pardoned by state governors based on recommendations or after due consultations with the state Council on the Prerogative of Mercy.
The decision was part of efforts to decongest some of the crowded correctional centres.
In January and October, the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, pardoned 26 inmates from its custodial facilities.
In April, the Presidency pardoned 159 inmates-including ex-Governors Joshua Dariye of Plateau State and Jolly Nyame of Taraba State.
In June, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State pardoned 40 inmates.
In a similar development, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State pardoned six convicts.
In July, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State granted pardons to about 90 inmates across the correctional centres in Kano, in celebration of the Eid el Kabir.
In September, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State pardoned.
In October, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State pardoned 153 inmates with minor offences, and his counterpart, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State pardoned 46 inmates from various correctional facilities across the state.
In November, it was gathered that 181 inmates across the three correctional centres in Rivers State were granted a pardon by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Simeon Amadi.
It was reported that on December 31, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State pardoned 46 inmates who were serving different jail terms in the state.
Speaking on the high number of awaiting inmates in the custodial centres across the state, the Spokesperson of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Abubakar Umar, in a chat with our correspondent on Sunday said, “The issue of awaiting trial inmates has to do with the prosecuting agency and the trial court. Any case that goes to court, is left for the court to hear their cases. We do not prosecute or hear cases.”