The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently review and withdraw the pardon granted to former governors of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye and Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame, who are serving jail terms for corruption.
Dariye and Nyame were jailed for stealing N1.16 billion and N1.6 billion respectively.
However, the National Council of State last week endorsed the pardon of Dariye, Nyame and 157 others serving jail terms following the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy.
But in the letter dated 16 April, 2022, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said impunity for corruption would continue as long as influential politicians escape justice for their crimes.
SERAP also urged him to propose constitutional amendment to the National Assembly to reform the provisions on the exercise of the prerogative of mercy to make it provisions more transparent, and consistent and compatible with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations.
The organisation stated that any proposed amendment should also empower the citizens to challenge the legality of any arbitrary exercise of the power of prerogative of mercy.
The letter, copied to the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, read in part: “Presidential pardon for corruption cases is inconsistent with the rule of law, and the public interest, as it undermines the principle of equality before the law. It will undermine public confidence in your government’s fight against corruption, and the justice system.
“SERAP is concerned that while the pardon power is routinely exercised to shield influential politicians and politically exposed persons from justice and accountability, ordinary people who have committed petty offences but with no money or influential politicians to speak for them, languish in prisons and are rarely considered for pardon.
“Mr. Dariye and Mr. Nyame should have been allowed to complete their jail terms. The exercise of the presidential pardon in their cases would seem to be unfair and undeserving. The investigation and prosecution of the corruption cases involving the pardoned former governors Dariye and Nyame reportedly cost over N300 millions of taxpayers’ money.
“The cases went from the High Court to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. SERAP therefore urges you to urgently withdraw the presidential pardon granted to Mr. Dariye and Mr. Nyame, and to propose amendment to section 175 of the Nigerian Constitution that will make the exercise of the power to pardon more transparent and consistent and compatible with the country’s international obligations.”