By Yomi Kareem
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari, asking the court to declare illegal, and incompatible with the oath of office, and public interest the recent pardon granted to former governors of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye, and Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame who are serving jail terms for corruption.
Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame 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 respectively from their state treasuries, while they were in office between 1999 and 2007.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/825/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is asking the court to determine “whether the exercise of the power of prerogative of mercy to grant pardon to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame is compatible with the public interest, the oath of office, and constitutional duty to combat corruption.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, the organization is asking the court for a declaration that the exercise of the power of prerogative of mercy to grant pardon to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame is compatible with the public interest, the oath of office, and constitutional duty to combat corruption.
SERAP is also asking the court for an order setting aside the pardon granted to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame 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 suit, 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.”
SERAP in its suit, argued that; “It is in the interest of justice to set aside the pardon for Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame. Presidential pardon for grand corruption cases is incompatible with the rule of law, as it undermines equality before the law.”
According to SERAP, the pardon power ought not to be exercised to shield influential politicians and politically exposed persons from justice and accountability.
Joined in the suit as Defendant is Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.