The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari, for putting mechanism in place to decongest prisons across the country.
Bello made the statement when he received a delegation from the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy, led by the Vice Chairman, Mr William Alo, on Wednesday in Abuja.
The minister also hailed the President for setting Nigeria’s criminal justice system on the right path, especially in addressing the issue of high number of Awaiting Trial inmates.
He said that the FCT administration would work with the committee and other bodies set up by the president to decongest prisons and fast track trials.
Bello also commended the committee for the noble work it was doing.
The minister said the FCTA 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, had over-stayed their time in prison.
He also commended the Minister of Interior, Abdurrahman Dambazau, for his efforts at implementing the prison reforms of improved welfare of inmates, infrastructure and the purchase of vehicles for movement of inmates to the courts.
“As part of efforts to align itself with the desire of the President to decongest prisons, FCTA has identified prison sites in the FCT.
“The administration has also communicated same to the minister of interior, so that it would be considered in the ministry’s plan for the building of more prison facilities.
“We assure you of any necessary support to achieve your mandate.
“I will advise the committee to work with traditional rulers and area council chairmen in the FCT, to identify prisoners deserving of presidential pardon,’’ he added.
Earlier, the Vice Chairman of the Committee and leader of the delegation, Mr William Alo, said the main purpose of the visit was to identify and recommend inmates in the FCT that should receive presidential pardon.
According to Alo, the committee is 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 for a convict.
He said following recommendations of the committee, the president is expected to grant pardon to deserving inmates after due consultation with the National Council of States.
He disclosed that the committee had so far visited 11 states and had considered cases of convicts and ex-convicts, using laid down criteria to ensure that only deserving persons were considered for the pardon.
Alo, who is also the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, commended all stakeholders, especially the FCTA, working together to ensure that the objective of the committee is achieved.