THE Presidency has faulted the criticism by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, of the pardon President Muhammadu Buhari granted former governors of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, and Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, during the Council of State meeting last Thursday.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the criticism lacked “moral justification.”
Wike had criticised the state pardon, saying it ridiculed the judiciary that convicted both men of corruption.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant spoke in Minna on Saturday, April 16, 2022, where he met with the party’s delegates and accused the Buhari administration of being selective in its war against corruption.
He said, “I want to tell you that this government is very deceptive, and they have deceived us enough. You have big, 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 types 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.”
He added that the state pardon was strategically done towards the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
“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?” Wike asked.
Responding on his Facebook page, Shehu said Wike ought to have made it known at the meeting where the state pardon was issued, at which he had a representative, instead of airing his views after the meeting.
“I do not see the moral justification for Governor Wike’s criticism of the decision of the government to pardon former 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 views. This he did not do. A press release after the meeting is bolekaja politics,” Shehu said.
The Federal Government has been receiving more knocks for the pardons.
A senior lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), also flayed the gesture, describing it as an act capable of ridiculing the country in the international community.
Dariye and Nyame were among 159 convicts that the Federal Government granted amnesty and pardon on Thursday.
The ICIR reported that the former governors and the others were pardoned on the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy, according to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
Malami had announced the development after the Council of State meeting presided over by President Buhari.