The news of the executive pardon to convicted former Governors of Plateau and Taraba States, Joshua Dariye and Jolly Tavoro Nyame, respectively, has been received with palpable disbelief and shock. This act, if not timeously reversed, will sabotage the anti-corruption war.
The Governor of Taraba State from 1999 to 2007, Mr Nyame, was serving a 12-year jail term at the Kuje Correctional Facility for diversion of N1,640,000,000.00 public funds while he was in office. Mr Dariye, who was also the Governor of Plateau between 1999 and 2007, was jailed for ten years for stealing N1,162,900,000.00 of public funds.
These two cases were prosecuted for 11 years each, with hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money going into the prosecution and diligent investigators risking their lives to get justice for the people. However, the National Council of State, on the recommendation of President Buhari’s administration, considered and granted pardons to the convicted Governors.
The decision to pardon the former Governors was inconsistent with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations and an insult to the fundamental responsibility of the government to fight against corruption in line with Section 15(5) of the Constitution. The action has automatically passed a vote of no confidence on the anti-corruption efforts of President Buhari’s government, which came to power on the mantra of fighting corruption.
This brazen Executive interference in corruption cases has taken too far and further confirmed the suspicion that only small thieves are imprisoned in Nigeria. The decision would encourage the younger generation to embrace fraud and demoralize investigators, prosecutors and judges handling corruption cases.
We call on the President and his administration to urgently review and reverse this action to restore public confidence in the fight against corruption.
We also urged the National Assembly to review the constitutional provisions on the prerogative of mercy and remission of punishments to prevent abuse of power.