MITIGATE COURT SENTENCES FAIRLY - Ashang Tells C'River Perogative Council

By:Abuokwen Abuokwen,CRS-MOI Officer reporting from Ministry of Justice.

Cross River State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Tanko Ashang has charged the Chairman and members of the State Prerogative of Mercy Advisory Council, to be fair and objective in the discharge of their duties for the over all interest of the citizenry.

Barr Ashang stated this at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Justice Headquarters, New Secretariat Complex, Calabar during the inauguration of the State  eight- member Prerogative of Mercy Advisory Council.

The Attorney-General explained that the prerogative of Mercy  is the right and powers of the State, whether President or Governor or any other Supreme Authority, to commute a death sentence; to change the mode of execution or to pardon an offender, noting that it is meant to dispense the power of mercy by the State on exceptional cases, where the legal system fails to deliver a morally or politically acceptable judgement.

He further pointed out that the Prerogative of Mercy is a deliberate policy put in place by law to protect citizens against possible miscarriage of Justice occasioned by wrongful conviction or excessive punishment and urged the Council to be diligent and above board in carrying out their responsibilities.

Barr Ashang said the Governor Ben Ayade led administration reposed high level in their choice for the onerous task ahead,emphazing that the Prerogative of Mercy was ideally designed as a check upon the occasional excesses and misjudgments of the Judiciary; pointing out that the power was subject to abuse, and advised members of the Committee to guide against personal as well as parochial considerations. 

The Attorney-General noted that the Cross River State Law on Prerogative of Mercy, Cap P8 Vol. 5, 2004 provides for the functioning of the Committee, which essentially is advisory, adding that their allegiance was first to the Law and then to the Governor who has vested the power to exercise this perogative functions in section 212 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

According to him, beyond their advice to the Governor, they hold a divine mandate to make objective recommendations, including forgiveness, the Justice Commissioner likened the Prerogative of Mercy Council to an ‘’Appellate Court’’, stressing that what he was doing was a technical inauguration of a combination of  divine mandate and an Appellate Court to give justice to the citizenry, irrespective of status in the society.

The Commissioner noted that, it was in the complexity of the task that the Law expect that people who occupy the Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy be people of probity, who were qualified to make laws for the State and those who have not been indicted for misconduct at any time.

The Attorney-General expressed joy that, those appointed had credible qualities saying that, history had placed on them the very rare opportunity to review judgments and sentences of a Court in a very dispassionate manner.

In his remarks,the Chairman of the Cross River State Perogative of Mercy Advisory Council, Barr. Emmanuel Enamhe, thanked the Governor for finding them worthy of the appointment,promising that he and his Council members would do their utmost best to justify the confidence reposed in them.

Barr Enamhe,who is a retired Permanent Secretary from the Cross River State Civil Service lauded the Attorney-General and Commissioner  for Justice, Barr Ashang for diligently upscaling the justice system in the State,and noted that as a route to the Governor, the Attorney-General should help in channeling the needs of the Council to the State Governor for expedited response.

Members of the State Prerogative of Mercy Advisory Council,all of whom attended the inauguration include: Barrister Emmanuel Enamhe as Chairman, Mr. Elias Ayeshung as Secretary, Very Rev. Fr. Malachy Ephraim member. Others are Dr. Joseph Effiom member, former FCT,Abuja Commissioner of Police, Lawrence Eko Alobi member, Mrs. Blessing Egbara member, Mr. Emmanuel Bekeh Udama member, as well as Mrs. Adjah Enun Adjah member.

Climax of the event was issuing of appointment letters to the Council Members as well as group photographs.

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