Corruption and Underdevelopment

Presidency, Wike trade words over pardon of Dariye, Nyame

• Decision ridiculous, mockery of anti-corruption war – Governor

• Rivers helmsman lacks moral justification – Garba Shehu

By Paul Michael, Abuja

The Presidency and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike have traded words over the federal pardon granted a former governor of Plateau, Joshua Dariye and his Taraba counterpart, Jolly Nyame, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari last Thursday at the State House, Abuja, the National Council of State granted state pardon to about 159 prisoners including Dariye and Nyame, who are serving jail terms for corruption.

Also pardoned are a former military General and minister under the late General Sani Abacha regime, Tajudeen Olanrewaju, an army lieutenant colonel, Akiyode, who was an aide of former deputy to General Abacha, Oladipo Diya; and all the junior officers jailed over the 1990 abortive Gideon Orkar coup.

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Nyame, who is 66 and Governor of Taraba State from 1999 to 2007, was serving a 12-year jail term at the Kuje prison for misappropriation of funds while he was in office. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction in February 2020.

Dariye, 64, who governed Plateau between 1999 and 2007, was jailed 10 years for criminal breach of trust having stolen N2 billion of public funds during his time as Governor. He was elected as Senator representing Plateau Central in the Senate in 2015 and was sentenced in June 2018 but still completed his tenure from jail in June 2019.

While reacting to their pardon, Wike described the pardon as ridiculous especially on the judiciary which had convicted both men of corruption.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential hopeful, spoke in Minna on Saturday, where he met with delegates of the PDP. He lamented that the Buhari government is selective in its war against corruption.

Wike said, “I want to tell you that this government is very deceptive and they have deceived us enough. You have big people, you jail them after all the court proceedings and waste of money, then you ridicule the judiciary by granting them pardon.

How will the international community look at us with these type of things we do? Look at the amount spent in the prosecutions and you wake up one morning and messed it up all because of politics.”

While alleging that the pardon was strategically done in the interest of 2023 general elections, he said, “He obviously wants them to help him during the elections, he wants Dariye to help with Plateau while Nyame will work for Taraba.

“If it is not for election purpose, why did he not grant pardon to the likes of James Ibori and Atuche?”

However, in a swift reaction, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Gov Wike lacked moral justification to criticise the state pardon.

In a statement on his Facebook page on Saturday, Shehu faulted Wike’s criticism, saying the Governor ought to have made it known at the meeting where the state pardon was issued, which he was invited to attend, instead of airing his views after the meeting.

He said, “I do not see the moral justification for Governor Wike’s criticism of the decision of the government to pardon Governors Dariye and Nyame at a meeting to which he was duly invited but did not attend.

“The Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Banigo who joined the Council of State meeting virtually switched off her camera so it was difficult to determine whether she sat behind the dark screen or just walked away after first joining.

“If the Governor felt so strongly about the pardons, the right thing was for him or his representative to sit through the meeting and assert his views. This he did not do. A press release after the meeting is bolekaja politics.”

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