The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the presidential pardon granted to former Governors of Plateau and Taraba, Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame respectively.
TrackNews reports that SEARAP was reacting to reports of the prerogative of mercy granted to the two former governors by the Council of State presided by President Buhari on Thursday.
In a letter dated 16 April 2022 and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP asked the president to immediately review and withdraw the pardon granted to the former governors who are in jail for corruption.
It urged Buhari to propose a constitutional amendment to the National Assembly to reform the provisions on the exercise of the prerogative of mercy.
SERAP stated that the amendment will make the presidential pardon more transparent, consistent and compatible with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations.
The statement reads: “Impunity for corruption will continue as long as influential politicians escape justice for their crimes. The constitutional power of prerogative of mercy ought not to be an instrument of impunity.
“The pardon power ought to be exercised in a manner that is consistent with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], particularly the provisions on oath of office by public officers, and section 15 which requires your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
“Indeed, the presidential pardon power must be exercised in good faith, and in line with the provisions of Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution on fundamental rights.
“We would like your government to clarify if the pardon granted to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame would entitle them to the return of the stolen assets already forfeited to the government.”
SERAP said that the pardon constitutes an interference in the exercise of judicial power, stressing that the pardon appears to be arbitrary.
It added: “The pardon is clearly inconsistent and incompatible with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution, and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption.
“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 a pardon.
“While there is no doubt that Section 175 of the Constitution vests wide discretionary power in the Nigerian president to grant pardon, it does not stipulate the conditions under which such power should be exercised.
“However, when section 15(5) of the Constitution is read together with the oath, it would seem to impose some ethical conditions on you to ensure that the exercise of the discretionary power of prerogative of mercy is not such that it will encourage corruption or impunity of perpetrators.
“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 pardon power, if properly exercised, can help to protect citizens against the possible miscarriage of justice.
“SERAP, therefore, urges you to urgently withdraw the presidential pardon granted to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame and to propose an 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.
“Any proposed amendment should also empower the citizens to challenge the legality of any arbitrary exercise of the power of prerogative of mercy.”
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