By Boris Esono Nwenfor
176 prisoners, 132 of them from the Buea Central Prison, and 44 from the Upper Farms Prison have been set free. This is in connection to the Head of State’s decree to commute and Remit sentences of prisoners, as the fight against the coronavirus intensifies.
The decree concerns eleven categories of detainees. The commutation of sentences took effect as from the date of signature of the decree, April 15, 2020, and the date also marks the starting point for the calculation of the remaining term of imprisonment to be served.
In Buea, amongst the one hundred and seventy-six released prisoners, nine (9) of them were females and a minor. Some of the prisoners had spent eight years behind bars, while others have been in imprisoned two years and above.
Before the prisoners were given their “Notification of Release”, they were checked for symptoms of the coronavirus. the released prisoners were also provided with surgical masks for their protection.
According to officials, should any of them had shown signs and symptoms of the virus, the prisoner(s) would have been immediately been taken to the hospital, and other measures activated.
“I want to thank God for this day. I have been waiting for this day,” Bah Marcel, a released prisoner said having spent eight years behind bars.
“What I am praying for is to have a good job outside. I am a driver, and I also paint. Having a job will make me not to go back inside (prison).”
Talla Ivo, after spending six years in prison said he had been praying morning till night for this day. Hear him: “This is a day we had been waiting for, and we had been praying so hard for it. What I can say is that as I am going out, I am going to amend my ways and I will ask for forgiveness from all those I had offended; those I know and those I do not know.”
“I want them to know that I am a changed person, I am not the person they used to know before. I am a transformed person.”
The decree conforms with the laid down laws in the country. The constitution in article 8 paragraph 7 gives authority to the Head of State to exercise the right to clemency after consultation with the higher judicial council. The Head of State decides the nature of the cases concerned but equally the context under which such a decision is taken.
Persons sentenced from corruption charges, rape, embezzlement and acts of terrorism do not benefit from the remission of sentences.