The Presidency has assured Nigerians that the granting of pardon to 2 former governors, Joshua Dariye, Jolly Nyame and 157 others by the Council of State will not derail the ongoing anti-corruption fight of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The reaction from the presidency followed the outrage that had trailed the action by the president which they said is a political move and encourages corruption in public offices.
The assurance is contained in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on late Wednesday evening in Abuja.
Shehu quoted the president as assuring the nation that ”nothing done here was intended to achieve a political end or send a revisionist message on the relentless war against corruption which he has ably and evidently led by personal examples.”
President has constitutional powers for such action
According to Shehu, Section 175 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 enjoins the President to exercise his constitutional powers “to grant any person concerned with or convicted of any offence created by an Act of the National Assembly a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions;
Shehu said, “To grant respite, either for an indefinite or a specified period of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence;
“Substitute a less severe form of punishment imposed on that person for such an offence or remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on the person for such an offence or of penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the state on account of such an offence.’’
Pardon recommended by Presidential Advisory Committee
The presidential media aide explained that the Federal Government constituted the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy (PACPM) on August 28, 2018, with the mandate of assisting the president in the discharge of his constitutional responsibility of granting pardon/clemency to convicts or ex-convicts in deserving cases.
He disclosed that the committee filed its first report in March 2020 and reconvened on September 28, 2021, to attend to the myriad of pending applications for presidential pardon and clemency from Nigerians across the country.
Shehu stated that these accrued cases followed the established process of applying for pardon or clemency first to the Correctional Service.
- He said, ‘’This must certify claims made, be they of life-threatening ill-health, (as in the cases of Governors Dariye, Nyame; John Joshua Uloh, Engr Umar Bamalli, Sa’adu Ayinla Alanamu, Charles Ihenatu, Akinwumi Ajayi and tens of others making the approved list of 159; or such cases arising from remorse and good conduct or plainly on the basis of compassion among other stated criteria.
- “The PACPM members, under the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, followed up the recommendations with a visit to selected Correctional Centers in several states of the federation to “critically appraise and identify potential cases of convicts and ex-convicts before recommending them for presidential pardon/clemency and reduced sentences.
- ‘’In this round of the exercise, 412 inmates were interviewed and 162 were recommended to the Council of State by the President in the exercise of his powers, pursuant to Section 175 (2) which required that he should carry out this function after being “advised by the Council.”
Shehu maintained that the presentation to the Council of States meeting last week, attended by former Presidents, a former Chief Justice and 36 states and the FCT along the lines of its statutory membership was a culmination of a rigorous process.
He said the exercise was also regulated and guided by the law which was not in any way designed to achieve a political purpose.
He stated, “While it is natural that the cases of the ex-governors-two among many would excite political analysts coming at a time when elections are in the air, the president would at the same time have come across as insensitive and cruel to most people were he to have ignored very compelling cases recommended for pardon made to him because someone is a former governor.
“Even governors have the right to be treated fairly under the law.’’
What you should know
- It can be recalled that about 6 days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari granted pardon to Joshua Dariye, former governor of Plateau State, Jolly Nyame, former governor of Taraba state and 157 others.
- They were granted pardons on the grounds of age and ill-health.
- Another beneficiary of the pardon is Tajudeen Olanrewaju, former military general and minister under the Sani Abacha regime, Akiyode, former lieutenant colonel and ex-aide of Oladipo Diya, all the junior officers jailed for the failed Gideon Orkar coup of 1990, and others.
- However, the council rejected a request for pardon for Francis Atuche, former managing director of Bank PHB, who was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for fraud.