In Tamale Prisoner's song pleas to Mahama for mercy

A disabled prisoner appeals to President Mahama for mercy for those locked away for 30 years in the Tamale Central Prison. Alice Adu reports from the Northern Region.

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As a disabled man strummed a well-used guitar at the Tamale Central Prisons, using music to appeal to the visiting Minister of the Interior, and his boss, President John Dramani Mahama, keeping back the tears was futile.

Minister Bani was visiting the prison with a contingent of aides and security heads as well as reporters.

The musician, in his 50s limped to his post, watched on by the 460 other inmates in the yard of the prison.

In the heat of the North, the man used music to directly appeal on behalf of his fellow prisoners who have served more than 30 years.

His appeal came moments after one of the convicts was carried on the shoulder of another into the yard, to take part in the durbar.

The musician welcomed the Minister and other security heads to the durbar and through a melodious tune asked for mercy for his colleagues. 

He was cheered on by his fellow prisoners as the Minister with his entourage sat down quietly to listen to the lyrics sang in the style of ace reggae musician Shasha Marley.

"We know we have wronged society that is why we are serving in prison,” he sung.

The appeal didn't just end with the Minister but was extended to president John Dramani Mahama and his government to come to their aide.

"Please tell John Dramani Mahama to temper mercy with justice, please tell government that we won't steal, rape, murder, defile again.”

The yard was silent as the Minister's entourage quietly listened to the lyrics as four old men between the ages of 70 to 80, suspected to be the target of the music, sat on the front row right in front of the dignitaries.

A written speech read on behalf of the inmates one of them serving 10 years in prison said "the sentencing policy of the nation should be reviewed so that inmates are not given very harsh and high sentences by Judges so as to reduce government expenditure on prisoners."

He advocated that the various workshops in the prisons be better equipped so that inmates could acquire employable skills before they returned to the community because "without training, ex-convicts will re-offend."

Obviously touched by the song, Minister Bani noted that government was not interested in keeping people in custody for the sake of it.

He sympathised with the prisoners and said government was only acting in accordance with the laws of the country.

He urged them to be prayerful, law abiding and to exhibit good conduct in order to benefit from governments' periodic amnesty when the time is due.

He reiterated governments' commitment to improving the living standards in the prisons across the country.

During his tour, the entourage visited various rooms and apartments in the yard. They visited remand cells, the workshop areas as well as the female cells where the minister chanced upon a woman in her mid twenties who was nursing her baby that she had delivered whiles serving a one year jail term and is due to be freed November, 2016.

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