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SERAP sues Buhari, Malami over pardon for Nyame, Dariye, seeks reversal

By Gbenga Salau, Silver Nwokoro (Lagos) and Sodiq Omolaoye (Abuja)
09 May 2022   |   2:46 am
Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari at the Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking to declare illegal and incompatible with the oath

Buhari . Photo/Twitter//ProfOsinbajo

TMG cautions against using taxpayers’ money for political campaigns

Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari at the Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking to declare illegal and incompatible with the oath of office and public interest the recent pardon granted former governors of Plateau and Taraba states, Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame, who currently are serving jail terms for corruption.

Joined in the suit is Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

The duo were recently pardoned alongside 157 others convicted for various offences. The two men were investigated, prosecuted and convicted for stealing N1.16 billion and N1.6 billion from their states’ treasuries when they held office between 1999 and 2007.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/825/2022, filed at the weekend, SERAP is asking the court to determine whether the exercise of the power of prerogative of mercy to grant pardon to the pair “is compatible with the public interest, the oath of office and constitutional duty to combat corruption.”

The rights group also prays the court for an order setting aside the pardon granted to the ex-governors “in the public interest, and for the sake of the integrity, well-being and prosperity of Nigeria, and the country’s international obligations.”

In the lawsuit, 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.”

According to the body, the pardon power ought not to be exercised to shield influential politicians and politically exposed persons from justice and accountability.

It is also asking the court for an order directing and mandating Buhari and future presidents to consider public interest, requirements of the oath of office and constitutional duty to combat corruption in any future exercise of the pardon power.

The suit filed by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “The pardon power, if properly exercised, can help to protect citizens against the possible miscarriage of justice.”

“Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) provides that ‘the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.’

“Article 26 of the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party requires the government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions,’ including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption.”

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.

BESIDES, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), at the weekend, s warned against the use of state resources by public office holders for campaigns and other political activities.

In a statement, its chairman, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, who doubles as Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), noted that the use of taxpayers’ money and collective resources of Nigerians to fund personal political ambition was unacceptable.

The group said: “We are living witnesses to how ministers and other top public office holders use state apparatus such as government jets, public cars and funds to run their personal ambitions, which wrongfully does not create a level playing ground, and is a bad omen for our democracy.”

Rafsanjani observed that the move by 2023 aspirants cum public officers “is shocking and alarming,” stating that even with the enormous challenges facing the country at this moment, “they still have the audacity to run for offices with scarce state resources.”

The TMG boss decried the huge amount of money being demanded on nomination and expression of interest forms.

He, therefore, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), police and anti-corruption agencies to spotlight the massive exchange of money at the party’s conventions.