On Thursday April 14, President Buhari during the council of state meeting granted pardons, under the Prerogative of Mercy, to former governors, Joshua Dariye of Plateau State and Jolly Nyame of Taraba State.
The former Governors were both serving various jail terms for misappropriation of public funds.
This move was largely met with criticism, and even looked at as a political move. However, the presidency has defended the decision.
A statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu read,
“The Presidency wishes to throw light on the recent note presented to the Council of State, on the report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy, as a culmination of a process begun by the convicts and others concerned in line with the Constitution.”
The statement went on to explain that the 1999 Constitution enjoins the President to exercise his constitutional powers “to grant any person concerned with or convicted of any offense created by an Act of the National Assembly a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions; to grant respite, either for an indefinite or a specified period of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence; substitute a less severe form of punishment imposed on that person for such an offence or remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on the person for such an offence or of penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the state on account of such an offence.”
Shehu added that in August 2018, the PACPM was set up by the Federal Government with the responsibility to assist the President in the discharge of his constitutional responsibility of granting pardon/clemency to convicts or ex-convicts in deserving cases.
“These accrued cases followed the established process of applying for pardon or clemency first to the Correctional Service (formerly Nigerian Prison Service), which must certify claims made, be they of life-threatening ill-health, (as in the cases of Governors Dariye, Nyame; John Uloh, Umar Bamalli, Sa’adu Alanamu, Charles Ihenatu, Akinwumi Ajayi and tens of others making the approved list of 159; or such cases arising from remorse and good conduct or plainly on the basis of compassion among other stated criteria.”
“The PACPM members, under the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, followed up the recommendations with a visit to selected Correctional Centers in several states of the Federation to ‘critically appraise and identify potential cases of convicts and ex-convicts before recommending them for presidential pardon/clemency and reduced sentences,” Shehu explained.
“While it is natural that the cases of the ex-governors-two among many- would excite political analysts, coming at a time when elections are in the air, the 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.” The statement continued,
“President Buhari assures the nation that nothing done here was intended to achieve a political end or send a revisionist message on the relentless war against corruption which he has ably and evidently led by personal examples.”