Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Presidential Committee on Prisons Reform and Decongestion has released 205 inmates from Kebbi and Sokoto prisons.
Chairman of the committee and Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello, charged the released inmates to flee from crime and be better citizens as they go back into the society.
While a total of 135 inmates were released from the prisons in Kebbi State, 70 of them regained their freedom from Sokoto prison.
Of the total number, 51 of them were released by the Federal Government through the Attorney-General of the Federation and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, after their fines were fully paid while others were released by the Kebbi and Sokoto state governments.
The Committee had considered cases of inmates with maximum sentences.
The transport fare back home of two young women who regained their freedom was paid by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC.
The Chairman of the committee and other members considered cases of the aged and seriously ill inmates.
A particular case was that of an old man of about 70 years convicted on charges of witchcraft.
The old man, Mohammad Seriki Aski, regained freedom after Justice Bello looked into his case and said he should not have been convicted in the first place.
He said there was no law that can sustain charges of witchcraft and should not have been tried in the first place.
According to Aski, he lost his wife while in prison.
Another 61- year-old man, Abubakar Aliyu, initially sentenced to death for armed robbery, but which was later commuted to life imprisonment and later 25years imprisonment, was released after spending 12 years in prison.
Another 80-year-old woman, Fatima Abubakar, convicted for murder was discharged after spending nine years in prison.
She was discharged after the committee considered the frailty of her health.
The committee chairman ordered that Fatima be handed over to her son after her release.
A young man with severe epilepsy was also released.
The committee was presented with six psychiatric cases and the Chairman asked the State Chief Judge of Kebbi State to ensure they are properly evaluated and the reports sent to the courts.
The chairman asked the Secretary of the committee, Mrs. Leticia Ayoola Daniels, to present three other cases before the governors of Kebbi and Niger states for prerogative of mercy.
In Sokoto State, an old man, Ruwa Dan Amo Asare, was convicted for smoking marijuana.
According to Asare, smoking marijuana gives him energy to work very well in his farm.
But before he was released by the committee, he assured them that he had already repented from the crime.
Justice Bello, in announcing his conditional release, said Asare must go through a psychotherapist from the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), to know the danger of smoking marijuana before his final release.
A dismissed police officer of about 70-year-old was, however, not lucky as he was told to serve out his conviction.
He was given a life sentence after he was said to have killed his wife because another man had carnal knowledge of her.
After killing her, he was said to have put her corpse in a sack and dumped it in a gutter to be washed away by flood.
The woman was said to have had 11 children for the man before she was killed.
His sentence was reduced to life imprisonment and was later granted amnesty by the state government after spending 20 years in jail and was reduced to five years.