A week before the expiration of his tenure in May this year, the then Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, pardoned an official of the Oyo State Ministry of Justice, Yewande Oyediran, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for killing her husband, Lowo.
Yewande, a lawyer, was in November 2017 convicted of manslaughter by Justice Muntar Abimbola of the Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan.
Yewande killed her husband with a knife following a disagreement on February 2, 2016, at their residence in the Akobo area of Ibadan.
The disagreement was said to have arisen after she accused her late husband of infidelity.
However, a few days before leaving office, Ajimobi granted the convict state pardon.
Speaking with PUNCH Metro on the telephone on Sunday, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state under Ajimobi, Mr Seun Abimbola, said the governor had the constitutional right to grant amnesty to any convict.
He, however, said Ajimobi did not exercise the power arbitrarily as it was being insinuated.
Abimbola said on the day the convict was pardoned, 49 other persons were also freed by the former governor.
The former commissioner stated that a committee was set up to look into the petitions of 400 persons, who had pleaded for clemency.
He said the committee comprised commissioners, officials of the Department of State Services and other government agencies, which advised the government.
The former AG dismissed insinuations that the convict was pardoned because of her former position as an official of the state Ministry of Justice and the alleged influence of her family.
Abimbola stated, “The issue of clemency by any government is a constitutional matter and the exercise of that power is not arbitrary. It is based on the recommendation of the committee on the prerogative of mercy.
“The committee is chaired by the attorney-general and also has DSS officers, the police, the chaplain and the chief imam of the Government House, Legal Aid Council; Director, Legal Affairs; the Solicitor-General and the Director of Public Prosecutions as members. So, it was not an arbitrary decision.
“The lady in question is just one out of 50 who were pardoned. And the 50 who were pardoned were drawn out of 400 who were considered. So, she was not singled out as some are insinuating. Even the prisons authorities brought recommendations on the good behaviour of those pardoned.”
Abimbola maintained that Yewande had already served half of her sentence and the ex-governor decided to show her mercy since she was not convicted of premeditated murder.
He explained that nine months in prison was equal to a year, adding that her sentence began counting from the day she was detained.
The former commissioner added, “She was arrested in 2016 and her sentence started reading from the day she was arrested. A year in prison is nine months. She was not convicted of murder but of manslaughter. It was a fight between a husband and a wife, which resulted in death.
“People should stop saying she killed her husband as if it was premeditated. The amnesty was not a secret one. We did it every May 29 and even the new governor pardoned convicts on June 12.”
The decision of the Ajimobi-led government to pardon the husband killer has, however, sparked a debate on social media.
Many argued that were the convict a man, he would not have been released so early from prison.
Many male Nigerians stated that had it been a woman who was murdered, several feminist groups would have taken to the streets in protest.