In the aftermath of the presidential pardons granted to former governors of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye, and Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame who were serving jail terms for corruption, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari, asking the court to “declare illegal, the recent pardon granted.”
This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday by the SERAP lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi.
Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame, along with 157 others convicted of various crimes, were recently pardoned.
Between 1999 and 2007, the two individuals were investigated, prosecuted, and convicted for stealing N1.16 billion and N1.6 billion from their respective state budgets.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/825/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is asking the court to determine “whether the exercise of the power of prerogative of mercy to grant pardon to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame is compatible with the public interest, the oath of office, and constitutional duty to combat corruption.”
The organisation urged the court for “a declaration that the exercise of the power of prerogative of mercy to grant pardon to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame is compatible with the public interest, the oath of office, and constitutional duty to combat corruption.”
It also sought “an order setting aside the pardon granted to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame in the public interest, and for the sake of the integrity, well-being and prosperity of Nigeria, and the country’s international obligations.
“If the presidential pardon is not set aside, impunity for corruption will increase, and many influential politicians will continue to escape justice for their alleged crimes.
“It is in the interest of justice to set aside the pardon for Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame. Presidential pardon for grand corruption cases is incompatible with the rule of law, as it undermines equality before the law.
“The pardon power ought not to be exercised to shield influential politicians and politically exposed persons from justice and accountability.”
SERAP is also asking the court for “an order directing and mandating President Buhari and future presidents to consider the public interest, the requirements of oath of office, and constitutional duty to combat corruption in any future exercise of the pardon power.
“The pardon for Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame is antithetical to the public interest, the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution, and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption.
“The pardon also constitutes an interference in the exercise of judicial power. Because the pardon appears to be arbitrary, it undermines the authority and independence of the judiciary, and access to justice for victims of corruption.”
Joined in the suit as Defendant is Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
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