The Catholic Bishop of Yola, Adamawa State, Most Rev Dr. Stephen Dami Mamza, has facilitated the release of 26 inmates serving various prison sentences at the Yola Maximum Prison to commemorate 2016 as the Year of Peace set aside by the Pontiff Pope Frances II.
The Bishop who facilitated the release of the inmates met all conditions for 26 of the inmates before their release on Wednesday, said the Church compassion and mercy for the needy symbolizes the outlook of the Global Catholic Church to commemorate 2016 as the Year of Mercy.
During his short speech at the prison, Bishop Mamza gave an insight into the release of the inmates, saying he was moved by compassion to seek their release of the inmates, since some of them had been in incarceration for over a year due to their inability to pay the meagre fines as option attached to their sentences.
He said he came to know about the plight of the inmates following the shocking revelation of one of the inmates sentenced to two years imprisonment with an option of N700 fine, when he visited the Yola Prisons during last Christmas celebrations.
He said he felt it was only proper to show mercy to some of these prisoners who could not afford their fines and were thus jailed.
Bishop Mamza said: “One of them in prison jailed for two years was unable to pay N700 as the option of fine. For some others it is N1, 000 but the highest is only about N15, 000. So I got somebody to compile those affected.
“I decided to do this because this year is very special and has been declared by the Holy Farther Pope Francis, as the Year of Mercy. We need to be merciful to one another so that God can be merciful to us. We must remain our brother’s keepers and love those who are in need.”
Superintendent Kawu A. Ribadu who represented the Comptroller of the Yola Prison while setting the inmates free reminded them that their freedom had been facilitated by the Catholic Church.
“The Bishop here has paid your fine, you are therefore free,” Kawu said, while admonishing the 26 released inmates to be responsible citizens in the society.
One of the release inmates Miss Blessing Ishaku, a 15 years old JSS 2 student said she was arrested by vigilante while sitting outside her house and taken to a police station and she was taken to court and jailed for three years with an option fine of N15, 000 but she was unable to pay the fine so she has spent one month at the Yola prison.
Blessing thanked the Catholic Church for coming to rescue her from the prison sentence of three years.
Another inmate, Hassan Mohammed, said he was jailed for two years after breaking into a shop in the market. He thanked the Bishop for helping him to leave the prison where he has stayed for three months.