Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau on Tuesday freed 39 prisoners serving various terms in some prisons in the state.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Governor Lalong said the state government paid fines amounting to N465, 700 to secure their release since some of them were held in the prison because of their inability to pay.
“Eleven of them were from Jos Prison and we paid N147,000 fine for them; 13 from Shendam Prison and we paid N179,000 fine.
“We have set six prisoners from Pankshin Prison free and paid a fine of N61,000 and nine from Prison Farm Centre, Lakushi, and paid a fine of N78,700.”
He said no prisoner was freed from Langtang prison because they were cases bordering on homicide and murder and required a more herculean process to set anybody free.
The governor, who advised the freed prisoners against indulging in activities that led to their incarceration, told them to use their freedom to positively impact on the society and themselves.
According to him, he did not know any of them but decided to set them free because he believed they had much to offer to the society.
He said most of them were around the age of 25 years.
“If we have many youths in prison, we are not doing any good to ourselves.
“We are setting you free not because you are innocent but because we want you to come and join the empowerment programme of President Muhammadu Buhari,” the governor said.
Lalong promised to assist the freed convicts, saying that those who still desired to go to school would be encouraged to do so.
“Those who want to farm or start businesses will be assisted with a loan to take off.”
Meanwhile, two inmates standing trial were discharged during a court session at the prison premises presided over by the Chief Judge of Plateau, Justice Pius Damulak.
Damulak also granted bail to two others who could not meet their bail conditions either for absence of surety or other reasons.
Controller of Prisons, Plateau Command, Mr Noel Ailewon, said Nigerian Prisons Service remained central in the country’s security architecture.
Ailewon said the service was also central in identifying the causes of their anti-social behaviour, reformation, rehabilitation and reconciliation of inmates with society.
The controller said general security of the country would be guaranteed when these responsibilities are taken seriously and performed diligently.
He said that the service was facing some challenges and sought the collaboration of the state, particularly in the area of skills acquisition training.
The New Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the governor’s visit started with a Holy Mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Celsius Daklong, Director, Cathedral Training Institute, Shendam.