Governors reluctant to sign execution orders on death row inmates: Benue NCoS spokesperson

The Benue Command of the Nigeria Correctional Service has accused governors of not signing execution orders on death row inmates because they are humane.

The command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP. Stephen Nwanchor, who spoke on Sunday in Makurdi, also said there were currently 12 inmates on death row in correctional facilities in the state.

Nwanchor said eight of the IDRs were in Makurdi Correctional Centre and the remaining four in Gboko centre.

According to him, governors are reluctant to sign the execution orders for condemned inmates because they prefer commuting their sentences to life imprisonment with the hope that they may change for the better.

“The governors too want people to change, so they prefer commuting these IDRs death sentences to life imprisonment to observe and see if they will change.

“Governors have introduced a human face to execution matters, so some of them even release the IDRs after noticing changes in their behaviours,’’ he said. 

On prison decongestion, Nwanchor said the immediate past administration of Governor Samuel Ortom built a block of four cells that housed 100 inmates in one of the correctional facilities.

The Benue NCoS spokesperson added that the gesture from Ortom helped a great deal in decongesting the custodial centre.

The PRO also said that the Federal Government, through an act signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari on July 31, 2019, gave custodial centres the right to mete out four types of punishments on inmates which also helped in prison decongestion.

“We can make an inmate undergo community service; we can place an inmate on probation; that is postponement of jail term for an inmate to see if he can change. We also have parole, which enables an inmate who has shown good behaviour to serve the rest of his term outside the centre, and we have retributive justice which permits an inmate to pay back what he has stolen or rectify the mistake that led to his conviction. All these sanctions had helped greatly in decongesting the correctional centres,’’ he stated. 

Nwanchor added that the state government had also been paying court fines for many of the inmates who could not afford to pay such fines, to speed up their release to decongest the prisons.

Chief Registrar of the Benue High Court of Justice, Mrs Franca Ayua, also said that the Benue Judge often visited the correctional centres annually to pardon some inmates in jail for long and who had exhibited good behaviour.