CMPA Condemns Presidential Pardons for Convicted Politicians
Last week during Council of State meeting, two former governors that were convicted for massive multi-billion-naira corruption: Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye of Taraba and Plateau States were pardoned by President Muhammadu Buhari. The pardon has come at a time when the country is preparing for the 2023 election and it is seen as one among the many imbroglio and albatross to the supposed aggressive fight against corruption in Nigeria.
The Centre for Media, Policy and Accountability (CMPA) as a national non-governmental organisation that works in the areas of public policy and accountability, carefully observes the scathing public criticism and wishes to add voice to the controversy that has dominated the political sphere.
Firstly, it should be clear that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has granted prerogative of mercy power to incumbent president and governors to pardon convicts with respect to federal offences, and it has become a tradition of incumbents in Nigeria to exercise this power. It could be recalled that late governor of Bayelsa, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and former Managing Director Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama who were convicted for corruption cases were pardoned by former president Goodluck Jonathan. This is one among many existing examples of presidential pardon to convicts in Nigeria. But President Muhammadu Buhari’s sentiment and pronouncements of fighting corruption without fear or favor are loud, however, his present action makes his commitment questionable.
The Centre for Media, Policy and Accountability understands the difficulty of fighting corruption in a country like Nigeria and allowing rule of law to take its full course. Such extra-legal interferences, only encourage political thieves and their aspirants to embezzle public treasury and go unpunished. The state pardon of these ex-governors’ points to failure of the fight against corruption by this administration.
A chronicle of corruption cases against high profile Nigerians shows that the cases are either awaiting trials or kept in view as ‘plea bargain’. With this development, the pretentious fight against corruption by the Buhari-led government has dampened to insincerity. Sadly, posterity will remember the regime of the one-time winner of the 2018 African Union first ever anti-corruption champion with scathing mind for deliberately shielding corruption.
Government should have weighed the implications and aftermath of the state pardon before the pronouncement. Advisably, such decisions should have been taken in line with public interest. With this selective state pardon, the fate of the common man convicted for minor offence remains clear.
Hence, it is with a great sense of patriotism that CMPA discourages such unjustifiable trend in governments and calls for a review on the application of the prerogative of mercy power. This will help address the abuse of power by incumbents. Government, especially president and governors should be decisive, bold and courageous by avoiding such state pardons that is against public interest irrespective of the caliber of person(s) involved and those agitating for it.
Please, disseminate to the public through your medium.
Ibrahim Uba Yusuf
Director Communications, Outreach and Advocacy
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