Abakaliki – Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has ordered that death sentences on 14 prisoners of Ebonyi origin in various prisons be commuted to life imprisonment.
The governor gave the order on Saturday in Abakaliki during activities to mark the 56th Independence Day and 20th year of Ebonyi creation.
According to the governor, 32 inmates from the state have also been granted unconditional pardon for offences which they were jailed.
“The order is to the comptrollers of Enugu, Abakaliki and Afikpo prisons and pursuant to powers of Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, conferred on me as the state governor.
“These decisions were reached after due consultation with the state’s Committee on Prerogative of mercy and other enabling powers and this serves as the official warrant,” he said.
Umahi explained that the effective date of the decisions was Oct.1.
He said those whose death sentences were annulled included Igantius Ochioso, Paul Ominyi, Nnachi Asula, Sunday Ukpai, Onyebuchi Eze and Ikechukwu Nwafor.
“Those who were pardoned unconditionally include Ogbuzuru Odoh, Ogbonnia Odom, Shadrack Eboko, Ezi Ekum, Nduisi Nwodo, Paul Una, Musa Bako, Chikwu Ndukwe, Mgbeleke Oduma, Ugo Ogbuba, among others.
“The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Augustine Nwankwagu, is advised to submit report on the released inmates’ conduct to my office, to ascertain whether they still pose threat to society,” he said.
The governor also announced a five per cent increase in workers’ salaries with effect from Oct.1 and thanked labour leaders in the state for their understanding and support in reaching the decision.
“The government has also recalled the sacked workers of the state College of Education, Ikwo, and the 37 workers of the proscribed Ebonyi State Environmental Protection Agency
“We would also release workers’ promotion results and look into the issue of pension and gratuity which totals over five billion naira,” he said.
The governor also noted that the government would inaugurate a department ‘of tomorrow’ that would rehabilitate indigenes engaged in various forms of menial jobs across the country.
“We would be placing advertorials in national media on Tuesday, urging them to return to the state to learn the assemblage, repairs and maintenance of equipment such as tractors, tricycles, among others,” he said.
Bishop Christopher Edeh, Methodist Bishop of Enugu Diocese and Chairman of the occasion, urged Nigerians to leave in peace to fulfil the aspirations of its founding fathers.
“Ebonyi people should tow the path of righteousness, rally around its leaders to enable it meet its developmental objectives as a young state,” he said.
The occasion was witnessed by past leaders of the state, National and State Assembly members, among other stakeholders.
The occasion also witnessed march pasts by selected schools, labour unions, security agencies as well as the cutting of the anniversary cake,.
The governor also inspected a guard of honour mounted by security agencies.