From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has disclosed that 48 inmates were released from the Maximum Security Custodian Centre (MSCC) Makurdi based on the directive of the Federal Government as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Governor, who made the disclosure during a working visit to the prison facility, further revealed that, in addition to the 48 inmates released, more inmates would be set free within the confines of the law.
He directed the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, who doubles as the Chairman, Prerogative of Mercy, to compile a list of deserving inmates for pardon.
Governor Ortom enjoined the Chief Judge of the State to use his position and identify those who are unjustly being incarcerated and those who cannot afford to pay their fines, for necessary action, saying if given another chance, some of them could become better citizens.
He also directed the Commissioner for Finance to immediately release funds for the completion of ongoing work at the new edifice housing several cells to decongest the existing cells.
The Governor, inspecting the level of encroachment on the land belonging to the correction centre, also addressed the 423 inmates in the facility categorised into Inmates on Death Row (IDR), also known as condemned, Awaiting Trial Persons (ATP) and convicts.
Addressing newsmen during the inspection, the Governor stated that he had supported inmates through the payment of fines even before he became Governor, stressing that those in various cells across the country could make good leaders if given the opportunity.
Governor Ortom said his administration would liaise with the community to see how best further encroachment on the land would stop, stressing that he had directed that no building on the virgin land any longer.
The Governor also lauded the staff of the Nigerian Correctional Service for their sacrifices to the success of the formation, with the Benue State Command Comptroller of the Correctional Service, Amaka Nwonavi, thanking the Governor for his regular support.