Delta State Governor, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori on Friday called for the introduction of restorative justice and non-custodial sentences in the Nigerian judicial system to help decongest correctional centres across the country.
Gov. Oborevwori made the call during the inauguration of members of the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy at Government House, Asaba.
Those inaugurated were Hon. Justice Celestina Ogisi (Rtd) Chairman; Prof. Louis Ikechukwu Ojogwu; Alexander Neyin; Dr. Iris Jewo Ibi; Augustine Ezeagwu Esq.; Festus Onyeaju are members while Mrs. Uju Monye would serve as Secretary.
Oborevwori said the call had become imperative following the rising number of persons awaiting trial in custodial centres across the country.
According to Oborevwori, “the Prerogative of Mercy, sometimes called clemency or state pardon or amnesty, is a useful tool in the administration of criminal justice because it helps to decongest our prisons.
“Currently, the total number of inmates in the state’s five custodial centres is 2,371, out of which 1,545 are awaiting trial.
“As part of the continuous effort of government to address issues of congestion with awaiting trial inmates, the State Government passed the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2022.
“The Law is aimed at addressing the several challenges that confronted the administration of criminal justice system over the years.
“The Law modernizes and promotes efficiency, fairness, and accountability in the administration of criminal justice system in the state.
“Part of the innovations of the law is to ensure that the issue of restorative justice and non-custodial sentences are encouraged.
“Hence, rather than send all offenders to custodial centres to congest the already filled up centres, offenders can be made to undergo community service,”
He urged the Advisory Council to devise practical and measurable action plans for the full reintegration of released prisoners into the society.
Responding on behalf of the Advisory Council, the Chairman, Justice Celestina Ogisi (Rtd.) who thanked Governor Oborevwori for finding them worthy to serve the state, pledged to work with the guidelines regulating the activities of the Council.
Justice Ogisi said the issue of congestion in Correctional Centres across the state would be adequately examined with a view to exploring the possibilities of decongesting them.
She promised that the Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy would partner with relevant agencies of government in the state in the performance of its duties, even as she appealed to members of the public not to bother the Council with undeserved requests.
The State Deputy Governor, Sir Monday Onyeme, Chief Judge of the State, Justice Theresa Diai; Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Emomotimi Guwor; his deputy, Rt. Hon. Arthur Akpowowo and Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Emeka Nwaobi were among dignitaries that witnessed the inauguration.