Kogi state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, yesterday, granted pardon to 31 inmates and commuted sentences of 13 others in custodial centres in the state.
Bello who disclosed this in his Independent Day address to the people of Kogi State in Lokoja noted that the Kogi State Advisory Council in consonance with the provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended), on prerogative of Mercy Law, 1995, visited several custodial centres at different part of the federation to pursue this purpose.
According to him, after a careful scrutiny of various applications, supporting documents and testimonies by officials, the council compiled the list of those who were recommended and deserved to be given a second chance.
Among those who regained their freedom in custodial centres in Kogi State included: Shaibu Zakari, James Sheidu, Muhammed Yahaya formerly remanded in Okene Custodial Centre, and Sunday Adeyemi at Idah Custodial Centre.
Others were Ugbede John, Ojonugwa Mathew, Abdulmumuni Yakubu, and Muhammed Haruna at Ankpa Custodial Centre, while Daniel Ochonu and Abdulrahman were freed from Koton Karfe Custodial Centre, among several others from various custodial centre in the state.
The governor, however, called on the communities of the beneficiaries of the amnesty to tolerate and absorb them into the society and give them another chance in life.
‘’It was human to err but the act of forgiveness was divine; the beneficiaries of this exercise should be given every form of assistance that would be required by them for a restart.
‘’I, therefore, also expect the beneficiaries to reciprocate this gesture by eschewing evil and living at peace in their respective communities,’’ he said.
Speaking on his achievements, Bello said that his administration had delivered electricity to over 200 communities across the state, especially in the Eastern flank and the Lokoja/Koto Karfe axis of Kogi West.
He added that he had also inaugurated the Project Light Up Kogi East (PLUKE) for accelerated electrification of at least another 200 communities in Kogi East.
‘’We have also made tremendous strides in the provision of physical and engineering infrastructure and utilities of all types, such as major link and township road networks, electricity projects, rural water schemes, primary and secondary healthcare centres, specialist health programmes and empowerment initiatives for youths, women and other sections of our populace.
‘’The second largest rice mill in Northern Nigeria is ready for commissioning at Ejiba in Yagba East of Kogi West.
‘’It is supported with about 800 hectares of cultivated rice and will provide between 3000 to 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. It will also serve as an off-taker for many of our farmers,’’ he said.
He further noted the state in 2019, ranked the 7th top performer among all the states and FCT in basic education according to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
‘’We have renovated, or constructed from scratch, over 375 basic education schools across the state.
‘’Our secondary schools and tertiary institutions have enjoyed serious attention from the administration, both in provision of enhanced learning materials and physical infrastructure.
‘’As a result, several tertiary institutions were able to receive accreditation for critical courses which have been outstanding for years,’’ Bello said.
On salaries and pensions, the governor said that arrangements had been put in place to ensure regular payment of salaries and pensions on the 25th of every month henceforth.
He restated that the issue of delay or non-payment of salaries and pensions had become history in the state, stressing that his administration had fulfilled its promise to pay salaries and pensions, even before the due time.
He noted that the August and September salaries were paid to workers even before the end of the two months.
He emphasised that Kogi people at the grassroots had shown great appreciation to his government’s institutional reforms, stressing that he had received warm receptions in various communities with lots of goodwill and support.
Bello, therefore, expressed confidence that such goodwill would help greatly as the November 16 Kogi gubernatorial election drew near as he campaigns for his reelection with several achievements to justify his first term.
According to him, in spite of the widespread misunderstanding of his administration’s reforms in the early days in the face of vicious opposition, his government had been able to change the narrative of governance in Kogi State for the better.
Bello felicitated with Nigerians and Kogites on the 59th independence anniversary of the country and expressed gratitude to Almighty God, for guiding the nation through thick and thin.