The Niger State Government has paid the sum of ₦20 million in fines and compensations to secure the freedom of 81 inmates across eight Correctional centres in the state.
The state Governor, Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago, who was represented by his Deputy, Comrade Yakubu Garba, at a mini-ceremony at the Minna Medium Correctional Custodial Centre (old prison) to complete the process of freeing the lucky inmates, said his administration had sworn to uphold and protect the interests of all, irrespective of their status in society.
The Governor, who was emotional seeing young, vibrant youths who were supposed to be the future leaders of the state in such a situation, said what mattered most was their integration back into society as the correctional centre had reformed and rehabilitated the freed inmates while the government secured their freedom.
While calling for proper integration of the discharged inmates by members of their respective communities without any form of stigmatisation, he equally urged them to utilise their freedom by being law-abiding citizens and desist from any act that would bring them back to the correctional centre.
"This is the first offence committed by these young chaps; we have to give them the amnesty to go back to society after reforming for some time so that they can have a second thought about their behaviours.
"The process of integration has been taken care of by the officers at the correction centres; what now remains is for them to go back to the communities.
"The communities should accept them without stigmatisation and reintroduce the home training that was lacking in them and led them to these vices, so that they can have a better stay with us," said the governor.
In his remarks, the state Comptroller of the Nigeria Correctional Centre, Niger State Command, Salman Abdulkadir, disclosed that the process of securing the freedom of the inmates, who were about 81 from across eight correctional centres in the state, started with the immediate past administration about two years ago.
He said the present administration of Hon. Umaru Bago obliged after explaining the importance of the amnesty to the Governor and appreciated the state government for giving the freed inmates a second chance to live a free life.
He equally said the gesture will help in decongesting the correctional centres, appealing to organisations and good-spirited individuals to also emulate the state government’s gesture, as according to him, there were a lot of inmates whose cases were minimal but could not secure their freedom.
The Comptroller also disclosed that the inmates have been reformed and rehabilitated by their officers, urged society to accept them back without stigmatisation, and pleaded with the freed inmates to go and live a normal life and desist from any act that could bring them back to the correctional centre.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Political Affairs, Hajiya Aishatu Usman, said the state Governor approved the payment for the release of the inmates from eight correctional centres in the state.
She said their release was in line with the power of the Prerogative of Mercy as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
One of the discharged inmates, Danjuma Dankambari, who spoke on behalf of the freed inmates, appreciated the state governor, Hon. Umar Bago, for his kind gesture and promised to be a law-abiding and better citizen.
The Niger State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has sealed up the Oyoyo Filling Station along Kaduna Abuja Road in Suleja on Thursday, June 15, 2023. Mr. Musa Bwalin, the State Commander of the NDLEA, revealed that the filling station was being used to store Indian hemp for trafficking.
He said that the security man and some staff of the filling station have been taken into custody for further investigation, after which they will be taken to court for Prosecution.
Addressing Journalists at a news briefing to mark this year's International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at the command headquarters in Minna Friday, Mr. Musa Bwalin explained that the command had in the year under review arrested a total of 250 suspected drug dealers, out of whom it secured 64 convicts.
He stated that the agency has so far arrested a total of 31,675 suspected drug-related offenders across the country, out of which 5,147 were convicted of various Jail terms within the last year.
According to the state commander, 1,2072 kilograms of illicit drugs were recovered, while another 2,272 kilograms of Indian hemp were intercepted by his men in Suleja Area Command, adding that the Indian hemp was to be transported to Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory.
The state commander of the agency further told Journalists that the command recovered a total of 2,218.02 kilograms of Indian hemp in Niger State through various raids on some identified black spots where the illicit substance had been consumed.
The 2023 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, with the theme People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention, "admonished the society to stop stigmatising drug addicts but " bring them close to the society so as for them to have a sense of belonging.
He appealed to the members of the Public to desist from stigmatizing those that are into drugs, explaining that society is in the habit of looking down on those that are into taking drugs, stressing that stigmatizing them will not help them, "rather it will make them more addicted to the drugs".
"Let me admonish members of society to desist from stigmatizing those who are into drugs. By stigmatizing them, you make them more addicted to it.
"Don't look down on them; see them as part of society. Bring them close to you. Give them words of advice and let them know the dangers of taking drugs. By doing so, they will see reason and stay away from taking drugs," he reiterated
Speaking further, the NDLEA state commander requested the Niger Governor, Hon. Mohammed Umar Bago, to assist the state command of the agency with operational vehicles to enable them to rid the state of sales and consumption of illicit drugs, assuring that the command will continue to make the state inhabitable for drug merchants.
While commending traditional rulers for their unflinching support for the agency in the state, Musa Bwani insisted that his command will continue to live up to its statutory responsibility of ensuring a drug-free Niger State at all times.