SUNNY DAVID, AWKA
Three persons convicted of drug peddling and serving their prison terms in different prison formations in Anambra state have had their state pardon cancelled for what was described as the heinous nature of their crimes.
The presidential committee on prisons reforms and decongestion was in the state to perfect the pardon process for those who were sentenced to serve different terms in prison with an option of fine who have had their fines paid by the Anambra state government.
Our correspondent reports that the presidential team led by the chairman of the committee and Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello, refused to grant the pardon after reviewing their warrant and declared that they should serve their terms because they have prison terms between two and four years and considering the dangers drug pose to the society especially to young people.
Justice Bello said the reversal of the pardon will help deter members of the public who may want to venture into trafficking drugs and hope to receive state pardon when sentenced.
Those affected include Ugochukwu Okafor sentenced to two years imprisonment for possessing two hundred and twenty five gramms of cannabis sativa, one Chimezie sentenced for possessing large quantities of metaphytamine popularly called “mkpuru mmiri” and cocaine, and eighteen year old Paul Odo sentenced to serve a four year term for possessing three hundred and twenty gramms of cannabis sativa.
However, one Izuchukwu Ogbuagham, a twenty year old boy from Enugu state who sold marijuana and has almost out served his two year term was pardoned.
Also, nineteen year old Kosisochukwu Okeke, who was sentenced to three years imprisonment for stealing one hundred and twenty thousand naira to pay his school fees had his sentencing cancelled for him to go back to school, write his senior secondary school certificate examination and his school fees paid by a non-governmental organization through the attorney general of the state.
Meanwhile, the committee chairman, Justice Bello further explained that prisoners with mental conditions called “psychosis” or other forms of mental ill health who do not have members of their families who will claim them will not also be pardoned to avoid releasing them into the streets where they may become vulnerable to crime or become dangerous to members of the society.
Also, the committee assigned defense lawyers through the state judiciary, ministry of justice or through the nongovernmental organization, Legal Aid initiative to some persons awaiting trial, most who had stayed between three and eight years because they lacked lawyers that will defend their cases.
Members of the presidential committee, who were accompanied to the assignment by the Chief Judge of Anambra State, Justice Ijem Onwuamaegbu and attorney general of the state, Dr. Mrs. Uju Nworgu, had pardoned four thousand prisoners across the federation with Anambra state being the fourteenth state they visited.
Their mandate is to pardon prisoners who were sentenced to prison with an option of fine, age challenges and illnesses that is accessed to be beyond the capacity of the welfare department of the Nigerian Prisons Service, facilitate the release of those who have stayed beyond the number of years of their prison sentence and the assignment of lawyers to those who are awaiting trial but could not afford the services of a lawyer.