Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Sunday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the state pardon accorded former Governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame of Plateau and Taraba states, respectively.
The rights group, which frowned on the decision taken last week by the Council of State, in which 157 other prisoners benefitted the gesture, said the governors were serving jail terms for corruption and so, did not deserve such pardon.
Urging Buhari “to urgently use his good offices” to revoke the pardon, SERAP also asked the President to “propose constitutional amendment to the National Assembly to reform the provisions on the exercise of the prerogative of mercy to make the provisions more transparent, and consistent and compatible with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations.”
Recall that Dariye and Nyame were jailed for corruptly enriching themselves to the tune of N1.16bn and N1.6bn, respectively.
In SERAP’s letter dated April 16, 2022 and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation stated, “Impunity for corruption will continue as long as influential politicians escape justice for their crimes. The constitutional power of prerogative of mercy ought not to be an instrument of impunity.”
SERAP further said, “The pardon power ought to be exercised in a manner that is consistent with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], particularly the provisions on oath of office by public officers, and section 15 which requires your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
“Indeed, the presidential pardon power must be exercised in good faith, and in line with the provisions of Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution on fundamental rights.”
“We would like your government to clarify if the pardon granted to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame would entitle them to the return of the stolen assets already forfeited to the government.”
“The pardon also constitutes an interference in the exercise of judicial power. Because the pardon appears to be arbitrary, it undermines the authority and independence of the judiciary, and access to justice for victims of corruption.”