By Bamidele Salako
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday pardoned 500 prison inmates of the Kurmawa Central Prison, Kano, on the first day of a two-day official visit to the state.
The president stated that his action was in tandem with the federal government’s commitment to decongesting the country’s overpopulated prisons while also charging the freed inmates to make the most of the new lease of life the amnesty had granted them.
He encouraged them to engage themselves in productive ventures as they reintegrate into society and to build themselves into respectable members of society.
Buhari also assured that prison reforms and the attendant decongestion of prisons remained top priority for his administration.
“I am pleased with this visit and I have learnt a bit more about the conditions of the prisons and inmates,” Garba Shehu, the president’s senior special assistant on media and publicity, said in a statement made available to journalists.
“This building in front of us was built since 1910. Rehabilitation of prisoners and training of inmates is very important to us and we would continue to invest more on this.
“I asked one of the inmates (released) how old he was and he told me he is only 19 years old. If we have people of 18 and 19 years in the prison, and there is no continuous training, then their lives will be completely destroyed. We will invest more in education and vocational training.”
The president also gave the freed inmates an undisclosed amount of money to be used as transport fare to their homes.
The president had in his entourage the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau, Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika and Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu.
Kano State Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, also appealed to the inmates to be on their best behaviour as they reunite with members of their families and the larger society.
Buhari, who also visited the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, earlier in the day was in Kano to commission projects executed by Ganduje.
Among the projects are the 250-bed Giginyu Specialist Hospital, named after the president and a paediatric hospital at Zoo road, Kano.
President Buhari applauded Governor Ganduje strides urging Ganduje’s northern counterparts to borrow a leaf from the governor’s development notepad.
Today, the president will inspect a rice mill, Fullmark Rice Mill Company at Kwanar Gunduwawa, and Gezawa Oil Mill, the largest oil mill in Africa at Tokarawa Industrial Estate both on Hadeja Road.
Buhari is also expected to meet with Ulamas and hold an interactive session with community leaders and politicians before returning to Abuja.