President Muhammadu Buhari’s “needless, politically driven, ill-advised, and hurried decision” to offer pardon to two former governors convicted and imprisoned for corrupt acts, has been denounced by the Nigerian Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA).
The HURIWA National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said this in a statement released on Friday.
Senator Joshua Dariye of Plateau State and Mr Jolly Nyame of Taraba State were recently pardoned on health and age grounds, despite the fact that they still have several years to go on their sentences.
Onwubiko was perplexed as to how the President came to the conclusion that, despite their youth, they are too elderly to be imprisoned whereas there are thousands of awaiting trial inmates and convicted prisoners who are above 80 in Nigerian prisons whose offences are as simple as theft of chickens from their neighbours.
According to HURIWA, discrimination based on political ties will jeopardize the rule of law.
The two former governors were among 159 prisoners pardoned by the Council on Thursday at a meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential palace in Abuja.
Tajudeen Olanrewaju, a former military general and minister under the Sani Abacha regime, an army lieutenant colonel, Akiyode, who was an aide of former deputy to General Abacha, Oladipo Diya, and all the junior officers imprisoned over the abortive Gideon Orkar coup in 1990, are among the beneficiaries.
HURIWA praised the release of the military men, the majority of whom were falsely accused of plotting a coup by the then-military dictator, General Sani Abacha.
The statement, on the other hand, condemned the duo’s early release, claiming that they were attempting to use their political popularity in their minority northern Christian states of Plateau and Taraba to gain electoral advantage for the All Progressives Congress, whose administration has had only two high-profile politicians imprisoned for corruption since 2015.
Onwubiko described it as a “monumental scandal” that while two Christians and former governors of the northern states of Plateau and Taraba were imprisoned for corruption, a large number of other corrupt former Northern governors, all of whom are Muslims, are free to roam because the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission skewed its prosecutorial activities to target primarily Christians and Southerners.
HURIWA sees the early release of these politicians, who had only served 30 percent of their total jail terms, as a confirmation of the Buhari-led administration’s well-known reputation as a harbinger of the most sophisticated forms of corruption, but which administration chooses to use the so-called anti-corruption crusade to whip opposition politicians into line.
“There has never really been any crusade against corruption in the real sense of it. What EFCC does mostly is to harass students carrying expensive phones and laptops and to parade them as YAHOOYAHOO. Whereas the real big time CORRUPT politicians who are looting Nigeria dry and mindlessly are allowed to have a field day.”
“It is now survival of the fittest and the most connected in Nigeria of 2022,” it said.
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