The Council of State has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to act fast to curb the worsening security situation across the country.
Against this backdrop, the president is scheduled to hold a meeting with heads of security agencies on April 19, 2022.
Jigawa State Governor Abubakar Badaru, who spoke with State House correspondents after the meeting of the Council of State, said the president will discuss with the agencies’ heads on the recommendations and comments by the council on the worsening insecurity in the country.
If the meeting with service chiefs holds, it will be the second of such within three weeks. It is also coming up amidst the recent killing of over 100 people in Plateau and Benue states.
In recent weeks, from the destruction of public facilities to attempted jailbreaks, kidnapping, train attacks, and killings, the country has been beset by various security challenges.
In the north, residents remain at the mercy of Boko Haram insurgents and bandits, while in the south, security agencies and government facilities are increasingly becoming targets of attacks by gunmen.
This is despite several reassurances by the federal government and security agencies on the safety of Nigerians.
Only on Wednesday, the federal government assured Nigerians that it would disclose the perpetrators of the killings in Plateau and Kaduna states, especially those who attacked the Abuja-Kaduna-bound train in which no fewer than eight persons were killed and dozens kidnapped on March 28.
In another attack that occurred on Wednesday, five students of the College of Health Science and Technology in Tsafe town, Zamfara State, were abducted by bandits.
Members of the council include the president, vice president, past presidents, Senate president, House of Representatives Speaker, and serving and past Chief Justices of Nigeria.
Others are the attorney general of the federation, all state governors, and the minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Those in attendance at the meeting were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, secretary to the government of the federation Boss Mustapha, national security adviser Babagana Monguno, and chief of staff to the president Ibrahim Gambari.
Former heads of state physically in attendance were Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, and Goodluck Jonathan.
Others attended the meeting virtually from their various locations.
State governors in attendance were Hope Uzodimma (Imo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) amongst others.
Other governors attended virtually.
During his briefing, the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, said the Council of State approved 159 of 162 applications presented for consideration for the prerogative of mercy for convicts and inmates in correctional centres.
He said the 159 beneficiaries were inmates convicted and currently serving sentences for various offences.
Malami said the recommendation came after the council received the report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy.
The committee, set up in August 2018, was saddled with the responsibility of visiting the country’s correctional facilities and making recommendations to the president on the exercise of his power of mercy and compassion, to either grant pardon, clemency, or some other form of concessions by way of reduction in sentence and term to those that had been convicted.
“The committee made a submission of 162 people presented to the President for such consideration.
“Twenty-six of the inmates are recommended for presidential pardon, 85 of surviving ex-convicts were recommended for presidential pardon, one deceased person was recommended for post humous presidential pardon.
”Twenty-seven inmates were recommended for presidential clemency, 13 inmates were for a review of their sentences or prison terms, 10 inmates were presented for a reduced sentence from death to life imprisonment.
“In total, 162 convicts were presented for the President’s consideration for pardon and mercy”, Malami said, adding that all but three requests were approved.
According to the minister, the Council rejected the proposal to grant pardon to one of the prisoners sentenced to 120 years for stealing over N25 billion.
“The reason for seeking for pardon was because of life threatening illness. The second person was convicted for forgery, sentenced to 14 years and had stayed in prison for a year and six months.
“The third person was obtaining money by false pretences and was sentenced to seven years,” he explained.
There were also indications yesterday that former governors of Plateau and Taraba states, Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame, were among the 159 inmates that were granted state pardon by the Council.
On his part, the minister of special duties and intergovernmental affairs, George Akume, disclosed that the Council approved the conferment of National Honours on 434 Nigerians.
Earlier, the meeting observed a minute silence in honor of the former head of interim national government Ernest Shonekan, who died on January 11, 2022.
This is the fourth time the president will preside over the meeting, with the first being held on October 21, 2015, the second on September 7, 2016, and the third was held virtually in August 2020.
The Council of State is an organ of the federal government saddled with the responsibility of advising the executive on policy matters.
Meanwhile, the government has said it is targeting to hold a national census in April 2023 after the general election.
The director-general of Nigeria Population Commission (NPC), Nasir Isa-Kwarra, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the Council of State meeting, presided over by President Muhammed Buhari.
According to him, the commission is to conduct a pilot census in June after the primary elections by political parties. The last census was held in August 2006.
While disclosing that the commission will deploy high technology in the conduct of the National Census, he said that through census data is generated for planning, noting that the data currently being used are mere projections and obsolete.
He said, “It is very crucial because I have highlighted that the census is a very important exercise for the nation, because through the census we generate the data that we use for policymaking, planning, for development; the three tiers of government, and the private sector all need this.”