Human rights lawyer, Mike Ozekhome has stated that President Muhammadu Buhari erred in law by granting pardon to Joshua Dariye, former governor of Plateau state, and Jolly Nyame, former governor of Taraba state.
Nyame is serving a 12-year jail sentence for diverting N1.64 billion during his tenure as governor of Taraba, while Dariye is serving 10 years imprisonment for N1.126 billion fraud.
The former governors were among 159 inmates pardoned at a council of state meeting on Thursday.
They were granted pardons on the grounds of age and ill-health.
Ozekhome faulted the decision of the council in a statement issued on Saturday, noting that the president acted beyond his constitutional powers.
Ozekhome stated that since the offences were committed against states, it lies in the hands of the state governors to grant them a pardon.
“The offences under which they were tried and convicted fall under state laws which took place after the promulgation of the 1999 constitution during which time they were governors,” he said.
“Specifically, they were tried and convicted under sections 115,119 and 309 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, LFN, 1990, obviously an existing State law within the meaning, import and true purport of sections 315(1)(b) and 318 of the 1999 Constitution.
“It becomes clear therefore that only the governors of Plateau and Taraba states could have legally and rightly granted pardon to Dariye and Nyame, invoking section 212 of the Constitution and not Mr president under section 175 of the Constitution.
“The act of granting amnesty or pardon though discretionary, this discretion must be exercised judiciously and in the best interest of the country, so as not to create doubts in and dampen the confidence of, the citizenry in the national moral fabric, and in the fight against corruption.”
Ozekhome added that “the purpose of criminal prosecution is to secure justice, not only for the accused but also for the victims of crimes and the State; and to some extent get reparation and restitution for the victims while deterring others from going the same route”.
“I dare say that in these two instances, both the President and the Council of State goofed and abused their undoubted constitutional powers and privileges,” he added.