Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has granted amnesty to nine inmates at the Nigeria Correctional Centre, Okaka in Yenagoa.
Governor Diri made the pronouncement on Tuesday when he visited the centre.
Addressing the freed inmates, the governor advised them to change their ways and become responsible members of society.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, noted that the governor expressed displeasure over the number of inmates in custody, saying that the only way the centre can be decongested was through reduction in crime in the state.
He said it was his constitutional duty to grant amnesty to inmates based on recommendations from the Committee on Prerogative of Mercy.
He said: “Whereas you have all made written applications seeking for this discretionary exercise by the government of Bayelsa State, I have also in consultation with the Committee on Prerogative of Mercy and in accordance with the laws of Bayelsa State and in exercise of my constitutional powers as the Governor of Bayelsa State, hereby grant you mercy.
“I do not believe we should have this centre congested with our brothers and sisters. In other words, the propensity for crime and criminality must be reduced. That is the only way we can decongest the Okaka Correctional Centre. If we grant amnesty and there is still the propensity to continue in crime, no amount of jail delivery can decongest this prison.
“My advice to you is that you change your ways. Change your approach to life and become responsible members of society and contribute to the good image of Bayelsa State.”
In her remarks, the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Justice Kate Abiri, thanked the governor for the visit and expressed optimism that he would help decongest the centre.
She noted that the Chief Justice of the Federation was concerned about congested prisons in the country and in line with that she had embarked on jail delivery exercise.
According to her, as the Chief Judge, her power to release prisoners was limited to not too serious cases that have lingered, but that only the governor had the constitutional power to grant amnesty.
She also thanked Governor Diri for constituting the Committee on Prerogative of Mercy and for heeding the advice to carry out his constitutional duty.
The Chief Judge expressed delight that it was the first time under her tenure that a governor of the state was physically carrying out the exercise and appreciated Governor Diri for granting amnesty to inmates and for decongesting the prison.
Earlier, the Comptroller of the Okaka Correctional Center, Seth Edoughotu, commended the governor for rehabilitating the road leading to the centre and for donating an operational vehicle that has assisted them to perform optimally.