The Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria, MMWG, has condemned in strong terms the state pardon given to former Governors Joshua Dariye of Plateau Stare and Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, saying it’s a sign that the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has collapsed.
This was even as it called on the President to rescind his decision on the two former governors and let them complete their jail terms before being considered for any state pardon, recalling that after all, they were not political prisoners but convicts serving different jail terms for criminal and economic crimes.
The group, reacting to the freedom granted the convicted former governors, said it was the worst precedence ever set by any administration in the anti-corruption fight in Nigeria.
MMWG, in a statement signed and released on its behalf by a leading member, Sheikh Abu Sheriff, stated it was a wrong step to grant pardon to those convicted of economic crimes involving billions of naira of taxpayers’ money; noting that such action would give an opportunity to others to commit similar crimes.
It said “by the federal government decision, the anti-corruption fight of this administration has crumbled and corruption has been endorsed as being part of the governing process”, adding that “it would amount to injustice to keep in our Correctional Centres all those who have been jailed for corruption and serving various jail terms but who are not former governors.”
“The fact that these citizens are not elites and political heavy-weights does not mean that they should be kept in prisons all over the country.
“By this singular action of Buhari administration, corruption has been legalised and bad precedence that would encourage corruption has been set. No wonder that bad governance pervades all the 36 states in Nigeria except Borno State where Professor Umara Zulum remains tall as the ‘Best Governor ‘ for his outstanding performance,” the group stated.
According to MMWG, “the past and present governors in Nigeria today believe that there would not be any consequence for their economic crimes against the masses while in office and after they have left, that is why they commit economic crimes while in office”, adding that “now that the two former governors have been released unconditionally without completing their jail terms, the coast is clear for the looting spree to continue.”
The group maintained that the bandwagon effect of the state pardon “is that justices of the nation’s judiciary would be demoralised as their due judicial processes meant to curb crimes especially corruption are been quashed through political consideration.”
It added that the anti-corruption agencies like the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission, ICPC, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC would no longer pursue cases of corruption and other economic crimes with much seriousness as they would fear political intervention of this nature.
“Nigeria’s position in the Comity of Nations is gradually descending fastly into anti-peoples governance in which the ruling class past and present are now ‘sacred cows’; while the poor people are punished even for offenses they have not committed.
“The repercussions of this bad decision include the slowing down of actions on corruption cases by security agencies in terms of arrest and prosecution of offenders of economic crimes, a situation that would increase the agony of suffering masses as criminal activities can never be abated in such a circumstance,” MMWG further stressed.