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Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Tuesday, disclosed that the Federal Government has received numerous applications from some convicts and inmates that are praying for pardon and clemency.

He said that 320 of such applications that were brought on behalf of some convicts in Custodial Centers across the nation, were routed through the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Malami said that myriads of requests his office alone was inundated with, led President Muhammadu Buhari to order the reconvening of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy, PACPM.

The AGF spoke during a meeting he held with members of the Committee at the Federal Ministry of Justice Headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday.

Also in attendance at the meeting were the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, as well as Permanent Secretaries of both the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Special Duties, Umar Mohammed and Amb. Anthonia Ekpa, respectively.

In his keynote address, Malami, noted that FG had on June 19, 2018, constituted the PACPM that comprised of distinguished Nigerians, with himself as Chairman of the Committee.

“The core mandate of the Committee is that of assisting Mr. President in the discharge of his constitutional responsibility of granting pardon and clemency to convicts or ex-convicts in deserving cases and reintegrating them back into the society geared towards decongesting Correctional Centers and discharge the role constitutionally bestowed in him in that regards.

“By virtue of section 175(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the President may;

“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;

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“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;

“Substitute a less severe form of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence; or

“Remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on the person for such an offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the state on account of such an offence”, Malami stated.

He said the Committee had in 2018, after a painstaking exercise at selected Correctional facilities in various states that cut across the six geo-political zones of the country, recommended some convicts and ex-convicts for a presidential pardon.

Malami noted that President Buhari, in March 2020, considered and approved the implementation of urgent measures to decongest custodial centres towards the control of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the implementation of the report of the Committee.

According to the AGF, based on report of the Committee, the presidential pardon was granted to two inmates, clemency to 39 others, while four ex-convicts were also pardoned.

He said the Council of State at its meeting on August 27, 2020, ratified and validated the President’s action which he said had since been officially gazetted.

“Since the Committee submitted its report and proceeded on recess, the Federal Ministry of Justice has received numerous applications for presidential pardon and clemency.

“However, following Mr President’s directive to all stakeholders to swiftly ensure the decongestion of Correctional Centers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the glaring consequent danger posed to the Custodial Centers nationwide on the one part, and the fact the office of the honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and that of the Committee Secretariat is being inundated with myriad of requests for the grant of presidential pardon and clemency (320 applications) on behalf of some convicts in Custodial Centers across the nation.

“It has become expedient for the Committee to be reconvened. You are to look into these applications and advice as appropriate, based on facts.

“You are to carry out your assignment objectively in the public interest and the interest of justice”, Malami added.

Meanwhile, in his remarks, the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator Akume, decried that the population of inmates in the country has “become a stain on the nation’s criminal justice system”.

While applauding FG for reconvening the PACPM, Akume, stressed that mandate of the Committee is to interview, select and determine convicts and ex-convicts to be granted pardon for onward recommendation to the National Council of State headed by President Buhari.

He however warned the committee to be mindful of the kind of convicts it would recommend for a presidential pardon.

“Mr President will be relying on you as a Committee, to do what is required of him constitutionally, to grant pardon to deserving inmates, convicts and ex-convicts.

“I want to urge you all to tread with caution while investigating inmates in order not to release unrepentant criminals back into the society and thereby causing more social problems in the country”, Akume warned.

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