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State pardon: CSOs, Wike, Ozekhome condemn govt’s action

A constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekhome, has criticised the presidential pardon granted to former governors Joshua and Jolly Name of…

A constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekhome, has criticised the presidential pardon granted to former governors Joshua and Jolly Name of Plateau and Taraba states.

The president had announced the pardon of the ex-governors convicted of corruption and 159 others on Friday following the approval of the Council of State.

“What is the essence of spending scarce resources in the name of fighting corruption if at the end of the day the convicts would be pardoned and they would stroll into their palatial homes in splendour in this ugly manner?” he asked.

He said the constitution, under sections 212(1) and 175(1) and (2) granted the president the powers of prerogative of mercy to pardon criminals in deserving circumstances, but it must not be done in a vulgar way and manner.

“This brazen abuse of power will definitely ricochet and erode the confidence of our international partners in the fight against corruption. It will also dampen the morale of the agencies fighting corruption, such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigeria Police Force, and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), amongst others,” he said.

Also, the Rivers State governor and presidential aspirant under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nyesom Wike, has alleged that the state pardon granted to the former governors of Plateau and Taraba states was to assist the All Progressives Congress (APC) to win the 2023 elections.

He stated this while addressing the PDP stakeholders in Minna, the Niger State capital on Saturday, ahead of the party’s primary election.

While describing the pardon as quite unfortunate, Wike said the federal government wouldn’t have allowed the EFCC to waste resources and time prosecuting those it described as corrupt officials.

In the same vein, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Transparency International (TI), Nigeria, have expressed disappointment at the pardon granted to some corrupt politicians who were convicted by the Nigerian judiciary.

The executive director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, on Saturday in a statement also expressed worry about the effect such an ill-thought political pardon would have on the anti-corruption efforts of the federal government.

Rafsanjani said the pardon also failed the test of fairness and equity when considering the poor citizens who have been convicted and are in prison for lesser crimes.

By John Chuks Azu, Abbas Jimoh, Abuja & Abubakar Akote, Minna

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