Street Journal’s investigations have revealed that four of the prisoners granted amnesty by the Oyo State Governor last Christmas are still languishing in Agodi Prison in continuation of their various jail terms despite the pardon. Towards the end of last year, the media was awash with news that the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi granted amnesty to 10 prisoners in commemoration of the yuletide season.
A statement issued to that affect indicated that five of the prisoners, who had been on death row, had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. The remaining five, who had been serving jail terms, were granted total freedom by the governor.
While Ganiyu Busari, Morufu Bolanle, Dele Akinyele, Julius Awe and Samuel Akpobi had their life sentences commuted to life imprisonment, those granted total release were Yusuf Nuhu, Solomon Adegboye, Gbenga Adeojo, Akpan Joseph and Sunday Ajao.
Presently, four of the freed prisoners are still in custody while one has been released, having served out his term. Street Journal gathered that authorities of the correctional facility are still awaiting the return of some of the documents sent to the Governor about the release of the pardoned prisoners.
Street Journal found out that normally, prisoners that are recommended for pardon are those who have either been in the prison for long or those who have almost served out their terms. The other clause is that to be considered for pardon, such prisoner must have been observed to be of a good behaviour. In the case of pardons from the Governor, a committee sits and prepares the papers of the inmates which are then forwarded to the Governor. Street Journal gathered that the inmates would leave the prison once the Governor signs the papers.
A prison official who spoke on the condition of anonymity disclosed that “everything is in place from our own end. Pardoned offenders normally leave almost immediately. The committee that should sit has done so, we have forwarded the papers but we are yet to get any response. There is nothing stopping their release once the papers have been signed. If they bring it in, they will leave the yard before 6 pm. The only thing that can keep them till the following day is if the papers arrive late and even if that happens, first thing the following morning, they are out”.
Street Journal’s investigations also revealed that at least on two occasions, Prison officials have been to the Governor’s Office over the release of the pardoned inmates. “They promised to get back to us but we have not heard anything from them”, a Prisons official disclosed.
Meanwhile, family members of the four inmates still awaiting their freedom gather at the front of the Agodi Prisons on a daily basis expecting the release of their people. A representative of the families told Street Journal that they have been coming to the facility everyday since the pardon was announced. We are all looking forward to their release. “We had thought they would follow us home the day after the announcement but here we are. We are hopeful that by the grace of God, everything will be resolved very soon”, the representative said.
According to Section 212(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the governor is empowered to pardon, free, grant respite or substitute a severe punishment with lesser one as a form of amnesty for the convicts,’’ subject to the Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy.
Street Journal’s efforts to reach the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice for comments proved futile as he was not in the office when Street Journal visited. He could not also be reached on phone.