THE Council of State led by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has approved the pardon of 159 convicts including a former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye; and ex-Governor Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, who were both imprisoned for stealing N1.16bn and N1.6bn respectively.
Confirming Dariye’s pardon, the Commissioner for Information, Dan Manjang, told The PUNCH that the ex-governor had been given a second chance.
He added “Every Plateau man is happy about it and we give kudos to the President for honouring us in this manner .We want to also thank whoever that has a hand in making it happen because everybody makes mistakes and you can make errors while in governance.
“As of today, he (Dariye ) has been given a reprieve as if nothing has happened and that is the spirit we have to imbibe as a people that when we make mistakes, we have to forgive because nobody is above error “
The Director of Press and Public Affairs, Government House, Dr Macham Makut, also confirmed that Governor Simon Lalong was at the council of State meeting where Dariye was granted state pardon.
The Speaker of the Taraba State House of Assembly, Prof. Joseph Kunini, also hailed Nyame’s pardon in a statement on Thursday while The PUNCH reported that there was jubilation in some parts of the state following the news.
The Spokesman for Dariye, Mr. Christopher John, confirmed the pardon of both Dariye and Nyame to one of our correspondents.
John said the pardon of the ex-governors had nothing to do with the fact that they were members of the All Progressives Congress.
He claimed that both men were unfairly convicted, adding that their pardon was a form of vindication.
Dariye’s aide added, “We are so excited about this. We’ve been expecting for a long time and fortunately, it has come at this time. We thank God and the government for granting him this pardon. The Nigerian system has made many court judgments unreliable. You can be roped into things you know nothing about.
“I believe that it is the will of God for him to be released. I don’t trust the Nigerian court system. Jolly Nyame was also released and we thank God. It has nothing to do with them being in the APC. It was even the PDP that charged them to court. The APC was not in power when this thing started. We know the genesis
Dariye and Nyame were convicted by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in 2018. Dariye, who was governor from 1999 to 2007, was jailed for laundering public funds to the tune of N1.162bn and was sentenced to 14 years in prison by Justice Banjoko who has since been elevated to the Court of Appeal.
Dariye’s prison term was later reduced to 10 years by the Court of Appeal in Abuja while his conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
For Rev Nyame, who was governor of Taraba State from 1999 to 2007, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for stealing N1.6bn from the state’s treasury, a judgment which was also upheld by the Supreme Court.
Addressing journalists after the Council of State meeting in Abuja on Thursday, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the council approved 159 out of 162 applications presented for consideration for the prerogative of mercy for convicts and inmates in correctional facilities nationwide.
According to Malami, the council rejected a proposal to grant pardon to one of the prisoners sentenced to 120 years for theft of over N25bn. The pardon, he said, was sought on health grounds.
Though the AGF kept mum over the identity of the prisoner in question, a top presidency source identified a former Managing Director of Platinum Habib Bank, Francis Atuche, as one of the people not fortunate to be pardoned.
The Council of State is an organ of the Federal Government responsible for advising the executive on policy matters.
Members include the President, past Presidents, the Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and both serving and past Chief Justices of Nigeria.
Others include the Attorney General of the Federation, all governors and the Minister of Federal Capital Territory.
In attendance were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.) and Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibarahim Gambari and governors.
Former heads of state physically in attendance were Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar and Goodluck Jonathan.