The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has granted amnesty to a 64-year old inmate of Medium Security Prisons, Ikot Ekpene, Mr. Okon Sunday Akpan, of Etinan Local Government Area, having spent 25 years, 24 days in the Prison custody.
Governor Emmanuel, in company of the State Chief Judge, Justice Stephen Okon, and members of his cabinet, granted the amnesty under the prerogative of mercy charged the beneficiary to go and sin no more and spoke of the need for proper upbringing of children by parents through sound moral guidance to enable them become useful citizens in the society.
The Governor who was on a working visit to the Ikot Ekpene Prisons, said that the visit was to look into the welfare of the inmates and reassured them that they are citizens of the State.
He frowned at the slow dispensation of justice by the judiciary officers, and emphasized the need for speedy dispensation of justice to save the prisons of congestion, particularly those being incarcerated as awaiting trail inmate
He said that the programmes of his administration are designed to engage youths meaningfully in vocational skills as way of reducing criminality, saying that Akwa Ibom people are known for discipline and hard work and used the occasion to advise youths to shun the temptation of going into criminality.
In an emotional laden tone, Governor Emmanuel advised the Prison inmates to show genuine repentance, stating that remorsefulness is not repentance, and assured that those whom the prisons officials have found to repent from their initial behaviour would be granted pardon. He advised the free inmate, Mr. Sunday Akpan to turn a new leave and let go his nick-name ‘Ikenga’, explaining that the name might have pushed him to his predicament.
The State Chief Executive directed the Health Commissioner, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, to facilitate medical access to two female inmates who are on various stages of pregnancy and announced the donation of 100 bags of rice, three cows to the inmates, and commended the Prison officials for dedication to duty, describing them as reformers of the society.
Earlier, the Comptroller Prisons, Akwa Ibom State Command, Dr. Regina Akpan, expressed appreciation to the Governor on his benevolent disposition towards people in the prison custody and described the Ikot Ekpene Prisons as the best in Africa. She said that the correctional facility accommodates five hundred and Eighty three inmates of which five hundred and forty-five are males, while thirty-eight are females.
She added that the facility has lived up its responsibilities of providing custody to prison inmates, taking them to Courts on demand, identifying the causes of anti-social behavior among Prisoners as well as provision of medical treatment and training leading to reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of convicts into the society.
The Comptroller however, acknowledged the challenges confronting the facility, listing them to include inadequate operation vehicles, shortage of pipe borne water, inadequate facilities for training of inmates and medicare.
She drew the governor’s attention to decayed infrastructure at Ikot Abasi Prisons which said was built in 1912 and Eket Prisons, built in 1920 and pleaded with the Governor to use his kind disposition to rehabilitate the facilities.
While appreciating the Governor for the amnesty granted to the inmate, Dr. Akpan condemned stigmatization of ex-convicts, stating that they may have found themselves in prison custody for reasons out of their making and remarked ‘anybody created by God can wake up one day in prison custody.’