Malami Defends Presidential Pardon of Dariye, Nyame
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has strongly defended the contentious Presidential pardon granted former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye and a former Governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, who were released in April last year, after serving imprisonment terms for corruption.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja, at the 18th edition of the PMB Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023), Malami noted that in releasing the top political convicts, President Muhammadu Buhari was merely exercising the statutory and constitutional powers vested in him as related to pardon of Nigerians who are serving custodial terms.
Nyame was serving a 12- year jail sentence for diverting N1.64 billion during his tenure as governor while Dariye was serving 10- year imprisonment for N1.126 billion fraud.
While the pardon of political figures perceived as a reflection in the loophole in the legal system that favours the rich at the expense of the poor jailed for trivial offences, the Attorney General of the Fderation insisted that the President did not consider the volume of the money, or the quantum involved before granting state pardon.
Rather, he said Buhari was only acting within the concept and series of the law to the effect that the beneficiaries indeed were eligible for consideration.
Malami said the amount someone looted either in the range of N 1billion or N5,000 that was not in consideration, but the ingredients and element associated with the matter.
“There are no different set of laws but there could be variation in terms of volume of the certain matters involved and ingredients of the exercise of the situation.
“So, in essence there has been in place a legislation that tolerated and accommodated pardon. It is the discretion of the president to exercise pardon.
“The question is whether the President has exercised the powers vested in him constitutionally or statutorily, and my answer is regardless of the volume of the money involved the major consideration is judicious exercise of the power by the President. And my answer is Mr. President has been exercising the powers statutorily vested in him as relates to pardon without having necessarily regard to the volume involved,” Malami said.
The minister also said the Ministry of Justice prosecuted a total of 7,000 cases involving various offences including maritime , armed robbery, vandalisation of electrical equipment and pipelines, financial matters, cyber crime, kidnapping and anti corruption.
He said as a result of the anti-corruption drive of the Buhari administration, a total sum of N1,823,788,146.88 has been generated so far from forfeited properties.
Malami said the federal government recovered the international asset of £, 6,324, 627 .66 and Euro 5,494,731.71. In addition, $390,000,000 was also recovered. He said all recoveries were utililised in the financing of critical infrastructure, including Abuja- Kano Expressway, the Second Niger Bridge and Lagos- Ibadan Expressway.
He added that 648 cases were instituted against the President, the federal government and some of its agencies at different stages of trial in 2022 alone.
He said the ministry saved the country huge debt liabilities to the tunes of N142, 478, 343,000 billion that could have been paid to external solicitors as incidental professional fees through use of in-house capacity.
He also added that amendment of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022 and the passage of the legislation into law, which declared Boko Haram, IPOB and bandits as terrorists’ organisations, enabled the deployment of the Super Tucano aircraft to address the security challenges in North-east and some parts of the country.
He noted that the passage of the law gave some justification for the application and deployment of Tucanos acquired from the US government.
The minister similarly disclosed that government also executed over 350 mutual legal assistance requests and over 50 extradition requests while other mutual legal assistance requests from Turkey, US on drug trafficking and other crimes were successfully treated.