Paul Osuyi, Asaba
About 150 convicted inmates at the five custodian centres of the Nigerian Correctional Services across Delta State have been granted amnesty as part of measures to curtail spread of the ravaging COVID-19.
Breakdown of the number shows that 49 were released at Warri, 46 at Agbor, 27 at Ogwashi-Uku while 25 and three were pardoned at Kwale and Sapele custodial centres respectively.
Chief Judge of the state, Marshal Umukoro, who visited the centre in Warri, however frowned at the unruly behaviour of the inmates at that centre which made him to conduct the exercise at the reception.
Justice Umukoro cautioned pardoned convicts not to return to crime, saying their release does not obliterate their criminal records, pointing out that while the pardon granted them frees them from legal disabilities as citizens of Nigeria, such mercy does not erase the fact that they were ex-convicts.
He enjoined the beneficiaries of the prerogative of mercy to sit at home in strict adherence to the order of the state government geared towards curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Stating that the exercise was in line with the Presidential Committee on Decongestion of Custodial Centres, he disclosed that the directive mandated state governors, through chief judges of each state, to identify and release deserving inmates.
According to him, the criteria spelt out by the directive included inmates who were 60 years and above, those with mental health issues, inmates with option of fine not exceeding N50,000 and have no pending case, children staying with their mother, convicted inmates with minor offences and convicted inmates who have spent 75 percent of their remaining sentence after remission.