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June 12: Abiodun Commutes Death Sentences for 45 Inmates, Pardons 41 Others

 

 

 

 

… Military Rule, Not an Option-Richard Akinnola

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has commuted the death sentence of 45 condemned prisoners to prison terms.

He also granted pardon to 41 other inmates serving in different Correctional Centres across the state.

Speaking at the 2024 Democracy Day, held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, Prince Abiodun said the decision was in exercising his perogative of mercy as the governor of the state.

He said: “Government has a duty to uphold democratic values by consistently applying principles of mercy, justice, and the rule of law. In this vein, the Nigerian Constitution empowers me to exercise a prerogative of mercy to anyone convicted of an offense in Ogun State.

“Having received the guidance of the Ogun State Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy, I have signed the appropriate warrants ordering the release of 41 convicts currently imprisoned across different correctional facilities in Ogun State. I have also signed warrants converting the death sentences of 45 inmates to prison sentences.

“This gesture signals a break from past grievances and a move towards a more inclusive and compassionate society where merciful second chances are granted to deserving offenders.

“All convicts who have received this gesture have shown remorse for their crimes, acquired skills and certifications in prison, with several of them receiving university degrees from the National Open University of Nigeria. They have also demonstrated verified good conduct during their imprisonment.”

He said the celebration holds immense significance as it marks the triumph of democracy, the power of the people, and the pursuit of justice and freedom, observing that the history of Nigeria’s democracy is one of struggle and perseverance.

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“June 12, 1993, stands as a watershed moment in this journey. On that particular day, Nigerians transcended differences of tribe, gender, and even the unique joint Muslim-Muslim ticket to speak unanimously through the ballot.

“They elected the late Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola and Babagana Kingibe of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) as President and Vice-President, respectively.
Although the election was globally acclaimed as the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history, the military annulled its results, dashing the hopes raised by this democratic exercise.

“That election remains a pivotal moment in our country’s democratic history. It has become the benchmark against which the successes of subsequent elections are measured. For all its import, it reminds us of the power of unity, resilience, and the collective determination to uphold the principles of democracy.

“It is a testament to the strength and resilience of the Nigerian people, who have shown unwavering commitment to democracy and the belief in a better future,” the governor added.

He said the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola stands as one of the finest trailblazers from Ogun State just as his courage and unwavering commitment to democratic ideals remain an inspiration to the people adding that his campaign slogan, “Hope ’93,” was a national reawakening rooted in faith and the limitless ability of Nigerians to face their challenges and solve the problems of nation-building.

While noting that the celebration signifies the commitment to continue the journey towards a better Nigeria, building on the sacrifices made by Chief MKO Abiola and countless others who fought for democracy and paid the ultimate price, Prince Abiodun said the courage and unwavering commitment to democratic ideals serve as a reminder of the power of the people and the importance of upholding the principles of justice, freedom, and equality laid by our forefathers.

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In a lecture titled: “June 12: Defining Moment in the Democratic Development of Nigeria,” the guest lecturer, Mr. Richard Akinnola, while giving a background to what led to the crisis, chided the nation’s judiciary for being a tool in the hands of the military government to annul the June 12 elections.

He condemned those who have been calling for the return of the military as the result of the hardship in the country.

“In fact, June 12 stands as a defining moment and a watershed in our quest for democracy. That is why we should be very careful. Some people who did not experience what we went through are not subtly calling for the military. We must say no, never do we call for military again. Whatever the challenges we are having, let’s fight, let us argue, let us disagree, let us abuse each other, but never should we be tempted to invite the military,” he advised.

Akinnola who described the June 12 elections as the best in the history of the nation, noting that the aftermath of the annulment led to killings of pro-democracy activists just as it ushered in mutual mistrust among the citizens.

The guest lecturer said for democracy to thrive in the country, Nigerians must keep their leaders on their toes, saying though it is necessary to celebrate the day, people should not forget those who sacrificed their lives for the democracy being enjoyed in the country now.

In his goodwill message, a pro-democracy activist and former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Ogun State, Dr. Niran Malaolu, eulogied Chief Abiola for paying the supreme prize for the nation to experience democracy, noting that several Nigerians also suffered in the course of returning the country to democratic rule.

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In his welcome address, the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) to the governor, Dr. Toyin Taiwo, said the celebration symbolizes the collective will of Nigerians to chose their leaders in a free and fair elections as witnessed on June 12 1993, just as it demonstrated the power of the people in bringing about change.

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