Reason for Dariye, Nyame’s pardon lame, CSOs tackle Presidency

Nyame and Dariye

Some Civil Society Organisations on Thursday the Presidency’s justification of the recent pardon granted to some convicts that include former governors of Plateau and Taraba States, Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on the advice of the Council of States, had last week pardoned 159 convicts, including Dariye and Nyame.

The pardon drew the anger of many Nigerians and groups who felt that the development would affect the country’s war against corruption.

In response, the Presidency, on Wednesday claimed that Dariye and Nyame benefited from the exercise because they are currently battling with life-threatening illnesses.

But the CSOs, in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Thursday, said the convicts should have been offered medical attention in custody instead of being let off the hook.

The Chairman, Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, said Dariye and Nyame did not deserve to be pardoned.

He said, “I maintain my stand on the matter to the extent that there is no life-threatening disease that cannot be treated behind the walls.

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“Even if it is a communicable disease, they should be put in an isolation centre or be allowed access to their doctors. The excuse is lame. They don’t deserve to benefit from prerogative of mercy.”

On his part,   the Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, Olanrewaju Suraju, dared the Presidency to present the medical records of the two former governors to Nigerians for scrutiny, describing the justification as an afterthought.

He said, “This is surely an afterthought and it sucks. If this is true, and we are conceding without agreeing, is that supposed to be a secret or confidential information known only to those behind the pardon?

“Are these two people the only ones facing life-threatening illnesses in prison? Well, in that case, the correctional service should be directed to compile names of all prisoners with life-threatening illnesses for immediate and automatic pardon by the President. The evidence of illnesses of both Nyame and Dariye should be subjected to public scrutiny to establish the verity of their claims.”

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The Coordinator, Transparency Accountability Group, Ayo Ologun, said, faulted the Presidency’s explanation, saying “There are inmates across the country that are facing more life-threatening health conditions and are yet in custody. The duo could have been allowed access to their doctors and not a blanket pardon as announced. I hold that the pardon is political and nothing else.”

The  Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre,  Auwal  Rafsanjani, also questioned why others with worst health conditions in various prisons were not pardoned, adding that the present regime had sacrificed the war against corruption for 2023 elections.

“We have many Nigerians languishing in prisons across the country and they have not been forgiven. Why is that it is only politically exposed persons?

“It is all about 2023 election. The various anti-graft agencies put a lot to prosecute and convict them; they have demoralised them with this particular action,” he said.

CSOs demand reversal on pardon granted some corrupt convicts

Meanwhile, a coalition of CSOs, under the aegis of Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks, has threatened to mobilise against the present regime if it fails to reverse the pardon.

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The 19 CSOs, in a statement signed by the chairman and secretary of CNSCSN, Ibrahim Waiya and Ibrahim Yusuf, condemned the pardon granted to the former governors.

The statement described the action as a disservice to the fight against corruption, adding that it is capable of killing the morale of workers of the nation’s anti-graft agencies.

The statement read in part, “We, members of this great conference, and as anti-corruption ambassadors, hereby condemn this action in totality and request President Buhari to, as matter of urgency, reverse his decision on the state pardon granted to some convicts in the interest of Nigerian citizens.

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