The news filtered last week that President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government granted presidential pardon to some people including ex-corruption convicts. The news of the brazen presidential pardon was like a rumour until presidential aides started defending the shameful, degrading and retrogressive action.
Rights and Freedom Advocates (RIFA) see the action of President Muhammadu Buhari led government as a presidential stamp on corruption in the country by the assumed anti-corruption leader who has now shown the world he is a corruption personified. Or what can we call it that some patriots fought tirelessly spending nights and days to ensure the criminality of the corrupt public officials who have destroyed our national heritage did not go unpunished, and some people just woke one day and honoured them for siphoning the state resources after wasting national wealth and honour on their prosecution?
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The worst is that the shameless pardon of the corrupt government officials came from someone whose major campaign gimmick was to stamp out corruption not knowing he is actually to entrench corruption.
Actually, 1999 Constitution of the FRN states in Section 175 (1) that “The President may – (a) grant any person concerned with or convicted of any offence created by an Act of the National Assembly a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions; (b) grant to any person a respite, either for an indefinite or for a specified period, of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence; (c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence; or (d) remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the State on account of such an offence.
(2) The powers of the President under subsection (1) of this section shall be exercised by him after consultation with the Council of State. (3) The President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, may exercise his powers under subsection (1) of this section in relation to persons concerned with offences against the army, naval or air-force law or convicted or sentenced by a court-martial”.
Regardless of what the section above specifies, the President ought to have used his instinct to exclude the names of the two former state Governors; Rev Jolly Nyame of Taraba State and Senator Joshua Dariye of Plateau State who were guilty of corruption charges. The detail of the other 157 names on the list is yet to be made public.
However, since Section 175 (3) of the Constitution used the word MAY, that means the President can still withhold his approval of the pardon of the two former governors found guilty of corruption except he is telling good Nigerians he is not different from the duo.\
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If those who stole billions of Naira could be pardoned why holding, in prisons, those who were accused of guilt while looking for what to eat? The President still has the grace while in office to correct the affront on Nigerians before it will become permanent stigma on his name most especially after leaving office.
Except the names of the corruption convicts in the list of those pardoned are removed, the fight against corruption in the country is nothing but waste of public fund. Therefore, for the heads of the anti-corruption agencies in Country to retain their honour, it is better for them to resign to send strong message to the Presidency for jeopardizing their efforts at sanitizing our societies of financial and economic criminals.
The President should also, as a matter of urgency, tender public apology to Nigerians for the national disgrace caused to the Nation. The ruling party should also know that the pardon of the two convicted former governors by the government is nothing but de-marketing of their party. Or what is the new thing the party would use to campaign that other parties do not do?
RIFA call on the President, the Attorney-General of the Federation and other concerned authorities to rescind their decision to include corruption convicts in the list of those granted prerogative of mercy by the President while the ruling party should also prevail on the government to rethink and consider its action’s implications on the polity even as the anti-corruption agencies’ heads are urged to resign with alacrity if only they don’t want their efforts to be futile henceforth.
Rights and Freedom Advocates (RIFA)