The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, said on Tuesday in Abuja that the ministry has received 320 applications on behalf of some convicts seeking presidential pardon and clemency. Malami made the assertion at the reconvening of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy, (PACPM). According to Malami, since the committee submitted its report and proceeded on recess, the ministry has received numerous applications for presidential pardon and clemency. “Reconvening the committee has become necessary following the president’s directive to all stakeholders to swiftly ensure the decongestion of correctional centres in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the glaring consequent danger posed to the custodial centres nationwide. “Also based on the fact that the office of the attorney-general and that of the committee Secretariat is being inundated with myriads of requests for the grant of presidential pardon and clemency on behalf of some convicts, it has become expedient for the committee to be reconvened,” Malami said.
The minister said that the committee was to peruse the 320 applications his office had so far received and advise as appropriate based on facts and objectivity in the interest of justice. The attorney-general reiterated that the reconvening of the committee was part of the current administration’s commitment to the ongoing justice sector reforms. In a goodwill message, Mr George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs urged the committee members to tread with caution in the discharge of their duties. According to him, the objective of the PACPM 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 Muhammadu Buhari. “Mr President is relying on you as a committee to do what is required of him constitutionally which is 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 cause more social problems in the country,” Akume said.
The minister maintained that reconvening the committee would go a long way in bringing about a drastic reduction in the population of inmates in the country’s correctional centres. Supreme recalls that the committee was inaugurated in 2018 by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha. Following it’s inauguration, members of the committee the committee went round selected correctional facilities cutting across the six geo-political zones of the country. The visit was to appraise and identify potential cases of convicts and ex-convicts towards recommending them for presidential pardon and clemency. After the exercise, the president approved the grant of presidential pardon to two inmates and clemency to 39 inmates just as four ex-convicts were granted presidential pardon. The committee is saddled with the responsibility of assisting the president in the discharge of his constitutional responsibility of granting pardon to deserving inmates and ex-convicts, and reintegrating them into the society. The gesture is geared towards decongesting Correctional Centres nationwide.