The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari for granting pardon to former governors of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye, and Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame.
Dariye and Nyame were investigated, prosecuted, and convicted for stealing N1.16 billion and N1.6 billion respectively from their state treasuries, while they were in office between 1999 and 2007.
After leaving office in 2007, they were recently pardoned alongside 157 others convicted for various offences.
SERAP in the suit number fled last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, asked the court to “declare illegal, and incompatible with the oath of office, and public interest the recent pardon granted to former governors of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye, and Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame who are serving jail terms for corruption.”
According to a statement issued on Sunday by the group’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, (SERAP) is asking 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.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “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. A 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.”
SERAP is further arguing that “the presidential pardon power must be exercised in good faith, and in line with the provisions of Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution on fundamental rights.”
Joined in the suit as Defendant is Mr Abubakar Malami, (SAN), Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi read in part: “The pardon power, if properly exercised, can help to protect citizens against a possible miscarriage of justice.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.