Man clocks 100 in Enugu Prison, NGO calls for his release

100 years is usually marked with fanfare but not so Pa Celestine Egbunuche, who clocked a century last Saturday; August 4, within the confines of Enugu Maximum Prison.

Pa Egbunuche, now Nigeria’s oldest prisoner, hails from Akokwa in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State.
According to Sun Newspapers, he was condemned to death along with his son, Paul and another relation, now 87, following a land dispute that led to the death of one person. They’ve all spent 17 years in jail.

An NGO Global Society for Anti-Corruption (GSAC) is now advocating for his release, calling on the federal government and the governor of Imo state Rochas Okorocha to grant them amnesty.

According to the NGO, Egbunuche has suffered from diabetes over the years, adding that with his age and failing health, it will be proper to release him to go and possibly die peacefully at home. If eventually released, the organisation would also want the Federal and State Governments to take care of Pa Egbunuche’s rehabilitation.

Experts said that in other jurisdictions, inmates above 65 years are eligible for either parole or state pardon.

Meanwhile, Daily Sun reports that inmates of Enugu Maximum Prison have not had the luck of receiving Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to perform the usual granting of amnesty during ceremonial occasions like the Independence Day, Democracy Day and yuletide.

Some of the inmates told Daily Sun they had turned a new leaf and appealed to the governor to emulate his counterparts in Anambra, Ebonyi, and Abia by granting them amnesty.

Their cries seemed to have attracted the attention of the chief judge, Emehelu, who during the 2018 jail delivery sessions in the three prisons in the state pardoned about 130 inmates.

A breakdown of the beneficiaries showed that 90 inmates were granted pardon at the Enugu Maximum Prison while 22 benefitted at the Nsukka prison. At the conclusion of the exercise in Oji-River Minimum Security Prison, where about 17 inmates were granted pardon, the chief judge urged the released prisoners to, henceforth, desist from crime and lead a reformed life.

She said the exercise was in accordance with Section 1 (a,b) of the Criminal Justice (Release from Custody) Special Provisions Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2007 and Sections 34 (1), 35 (1) and 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).

As the lucky ones breathe air of freedom, others like Chukwunonso Nomeh, 38, a condemned inmate who recently made history as the first prisoner in West Africa to bag Master’s Degree and some others urged the authorities to look into their case.

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