The Presidency on Wednesday defended the pardon granted ex-Governors Joshua Dariye of Plateau and Jolly Nyame of Taraba states, respectively.
The two former governors were jailed for stealing public funds but got pardoned by President Buhari “on the advice” of the Council of State.
But while the Presidency reacted to public criticisms against its action, the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) headed by notable Professor of Law, Itse Sagay, commended Buhari’s anti-corruption record without any mention of the Dariye, Nyame instance.
Reacting on Wednesday night, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Buhari only pardoned the former governors on the ground of ill health after a review of their conditions.
He said the recommendation to the National Council of States for the pardon of the ex-governors and 157 others, “was a culmination of a rigorous process, regulated and guided by the law which was not, in any way designed to achieve a political purpose.”
Shehu said President Buhari would have been seen as cruel if he had not pardoned the former governors.
“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,”
Meanwhile, the Sagay-led PACAC has commended President Buhari’s anti-corruption record, ranking it as the most successful effort at curbing corruption in Nigeria.
But it is silent on the President pardoning the two former governors jailed for corrupt practices.
“We need to remind a forgetful world that the peak in Nigeria’s fight against corruption was attained on two occasions; December 1983 – August 1985 and May 2015 till date.
“There is one common factor between these two periods: Mohammed Buhari was Military Head of State in the first interval and Civilian President in the second. It is not a coincidence,” a statement signed by Sagay read in part.
The statement was issued in reaction to a recent report by the United States Government accusing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), of only targeting mainly low and middle-level officials suspected of corruption in 2021.
Reacting, the PACAC said, it was not a reflection of the reality on the ground.
It stated that the report “ignored the excellent work done by the EFCC and ICPC in the area of arrests, prosecutions, convictions, assets recovery, fraud prevention, public sensitization, etc.”
“Today, constituency projects are tracked, budget padding is gone; bribe for budget approval is no more, fuel subsidy scam has been eliminated, sleaze in NDDC is halted, P&ID, OPL 245 Scams are under control and numerous forfeited assets are being auctioned, etc and the proceeds plowed into the highly successful, social investment programme,” Sagay added.