The presidency has defended the pardon given to two former state governors who were jailed for stealing public funds.
In a statement late Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, said Buhari pardoned the former governors for health reasons after a review of their conditions.
He said that the recommendation to the National Council of States for the pardon of the former governors and 157 others, “was the culmination of a rigorous process, regulated and guided by law that was not, in any way, designed to achieve a political purpose. .”
We earlier reported how President Buhari, on the advice of the Council of States, pardoned former Governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau and former Governor Jolly Nyame of Taraba.
Both men were serving jail terms after they were found guilty of stealing billions of naira of public funds while they were governors. Their convictions were upheld by the Supreme Court.
The pardon granted to the two men has been condemned by many Nigerians, including anti-corruption officials, as a denial of the fight against corruption. Officials from Nigeria’s two main anti-corruption agencies, EFCC and ICPC told our source that not only were they discouraged by the pardons, but they believe it has effectively ended the current government’s anti-corruption war.
In his statement on Thursday, Shehu said that President Buhari would have been cruel if he had not pardoned the former governors.
“The president at the same time would have been callous and cruel to most people if he had ignored very compelling cases that were recommended to him for clemency because someone is a former governor. Even governors are entitled to fair treatment under the law,” Shehu wrote.
Read his full statement below.
PARDONING DARIYE AND NYAME UNDER THE CONSTITUTION WILL NOT DERAIL PRESIDENT BUHARI’S ANTI-CORRUPTION WAR
The Presidency wishes to shed light on the recent note presented to the Council of State, on the report of the Presidential Consultative Commission on the Prerogative of Mercy, PACPM as the culmination of a process initiated by the convicted and other interested parties in accordance with the Constitution. .
Section 175(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) directs the president to exercise his constitutional powers “to grant to any person involved in or convicted of any offense created by an Act of the National Assembly a pardon, is free or subject to lawful conditions; grant respite, whether for an indefinite or specified period, from the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for such offence; substitute a less severe form of punishment imposed on that person for such offense or forgive all or part of any punishment imposed on that person for such offense or for the penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the state for such offense. ”
The Federal Government established the PACPM on August 28, 2018 with the mandate to assist the President in fulfilling his constitutional responsibility to grant pardon/clemency to convicted or ex-convicts in cases that deserve it.
The Committee submitted its first report in March 2020 and reconvened on Thursday, September 28, 2021 to address the large number of pending requests for presidential pardon and clemency from Nigerians across the country.
Former Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariya and Taraba State, Rev. Jolly Nyame.
These backlogs followed the established process of applying for pardon or clemency first to the Correctional Service (formerly the Nigerian Prison Service), which must certify the complaints made, whether for life-threatening illnesses (as in the cases of Governors Dariye, Nyame; John Joshua Uloh, Engr Umar Bamalli, Sa’adu Ayinla Alanamu, Charles Ihenatu, Akinwumi Ajayi and dozens of others who make up the approved list of 159; or cases arising out of remorse and good conduct or simply compassion, among other established criteria.
PACPM members, under the direction of the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice, followed up on the recommendations with a visit to selected Correctional Centers in several states of the Federation to “critically evaluate and identify possible cases of convicted and ex-convicts before recommend them for presidential pardon.” /leniency and reduced sentences.”
In this round of the exercise, 412 inmates were interviewed and 162 were recommended to the State Council by the President in the exercise of his powers, in accordance with section 175 (2) which requires him to perform this function after being “advised”. for the advice.”
Clearly, 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 their statutory membership was the culmination of a rigorous process, regulated and guided by law that was not, in any way, designed to achieve a political purpose.
Although it is natural that the cases of the former governors – two among many – excite political analysts, at a time when the elections are in the air, the president at the same time would have been insensitive and cruel to most people . if he had ignored very compelling cases recommended for clemency that were made to him because someone is a former governor. Even governors are entitled to fair treatment under the law.
President Buhari assures the nation that nothing that was done here was intended to achieve a political end or send a revisionist message about the unrelenting war on corruption that he has led skillfully and evidently by personal example.
Garba Shehu Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity) April 20, 2022