By Alex Enebeli
Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on Friday commuted the death sentences of five prison inmates in the state to life imprisonment.
Ugwuanyi also granted unconditional pardon to two inmates of the prison.
Presenting the document to the Controller of Prisons in the state, Mr Ifeanyi Amaliri, the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the state, Mr Miletus Eze, said the governor demonstrated his statutory duties by granting amnesty to the seven inmates.
Eze said that the exercise was aimed at decongesting the prison, adding that the governor would be granting amnesty to prisoners from time to time.
Responding, the controller of prisons described the exercise as a big relief to the inmates and also a milestone for the major problem of congestion facing the prison.
The controller recalled that since the enthronement of democracy in 1999, it was the first time a governor would be carrying out such exercise of prerogative of mercy in the state.
He noted that other states in the South East zone like Anambra and Ebonyi performed similar gestures twice or more in a year to free their inmates, especially those with death sentences.
“So far, Anambra has released 21 inmates while Ebonyi has freed 15 to decongest the prisons,” he said.
Amaliri appealed to the governor to make the exercise a regular event to accommodate more inmates to decongest the prison.
He commended Ugwuanyi for being prison friendly as he had visited Nsukka and Enugu prisons and showed magnanimity to the inmates.
“The governor tiled major cells in Enugu prison and installed 50 industrial fans for the cells in the prisons.
“The record in the prison showed that no governor has visited Enugu prison for more than 18 years but Ugwuanyi has broken the jinx,” he said.
Amaliri requested the governor to provide logistics for the prison to take inmates to the court, saying that 150 inmates were arraigned in court on daily basis but there was no means of conveying them.
He regretted that Enugu prison with a capacity for 648 inmates now housed 1,939 inmates, representing 300 per cent increase.