The Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Tuesday knocked President Muhammadu Buhari for granting a presidential pardon to the duo of former Plateau State governor, Joshua Dariye and his Taraba State counterpart, Jolly Nyame, who were convicted for corruption four years ago.
The National Council of State had last Thursday granted pardon to the former governors and 157 other persons serving jail terms for various offences in correctional facilities across the country.
The development has generated mixed reactions from Nigerians with some commending the President for the gesture while others slammed him for granting reprieve to politicians convicted for financial malfeasance during their periods in office.
The Nobel Laureate, who reacted to the pardon granted Dariye and Nyame in a statement he personally signed and addressed to the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, described the pardon as a “putrid presidential Easter egg squashed against Nigerian faces.”
He wondered why a government that convicted two young men – Mubarak Bala and the musician Yahaya Sharif – for blasphemy would grant pardon to two men who abused their positions in the society.
The statement read: “Easter Greetings to you, Rev. Mathew Kukah and to all your followers. All has been said, I think. I am impelled however not to miss an opportunity to add my own Easter drop to the overflowing vessel of pietistic sentiments, if only to reassure Christians – and also Muslims in turn — that even we, non-believers, do partake of that same ethical communion to which most humanity aspire. Also, your Easter sermon opens up yet again those sluices of juridical hypocrisy to which we dare not cease to draw attention.
“Such, in the immediate, remains the plight of two young men – Mubarak Bala and the musician Yahaya Sharif – one serving a sentence of twenty-five years, the other actually sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy. That word ‘blasphemy’ comes into its authentic mode, in my view, whenever anyone violates a solemn oath of office. Its penitentiality becomes even redoubled when such violators are pampered with the prerogative of mercy. Permit me to call special attention to the following from your sermon:
“Religious leaders must face the reality that here in Nigeria and elsewhere around the world, millions of people are leaving Christianity and Islam. While we are busy building walls of division with the blocks of prejudice, our members are becoming atheists, but we prefer to pretend that we do not see this.”
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