The National Council of State has granted state pardon to former Governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame of Plateau and Taraba States respectively, who are serving terms in jail for corruption.
The governors were among 159 prisoners pardoned by the Council at a meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja on Thursday.
Among the beneficiaries are a former military general and minister under the Sani Abacha regime, Tajudeen Olanrewaju, an army Lieutenant Colonel, Akiyode, who was an aide of former deputy to General Abacha, Oladipo Diya; and all the junior officers jailed over the 1990 abortive Gideon Orkar coup. The full list of those pardoned is not immediately available.
According to a presidency source, the two former governors were pardoned on health and age grounds.
Mr Nyame, 66, governor of Taraba State from 1999 to 2007, was serving a 12-year jail term at the Kuje prison for misappropriation of funds while he was in office. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction in February 2020.
Mr Dariye, 64, who governed Plateau between 1999 and 2007, was jailed for stealing N2 billion of public funds during his time as Plateau State governor between 1999 and 2007.
The former governor, elected as senator representing Plateau Central in the Senate in 2015, was sentenced in June 2018 but still completed his tenure from jail in June 2019.
In 2021, he led a partly successful appeal at the Supreme Court with a five-man panel of the court headed by Mary Odili, quashing his conviction in respect of criminal misappropriation in a unanimous decision.
The offences he was discharged of only attracted two years’ imprisonment and, so had no impact on his overall number of years of imprisonment. The apex upheld the ex-governor’s conviction in respect of criminal breach of trust, which attracted a 10-year jail term.
Adebukola Banjoko of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, had on June 12, 2018, convicted Mr Dariye and originally sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment on charges of criminal breach of trust and two years jail term for criminal misappropriation.
But following his appeal against the judgment, the Court of Appeal in Abuja on November 16, 2018, commuted the 14 years jail term to 10.
While the Court of Appeal affirmed his conviction, it held that Section 416 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, prohibited the imposition of a maximum sentence on a first offender, such as the convict.
The former governor had appealed to the Supreme Court.
Ejembi Emo, a member of the apex court’s panel noted that Mr Dariye’s appeal “succeeded in part” after quashing his conviction in respect of charges of criminal misappropriation.
The meeting of the Council of State was attended by former presidents and military heads of state, except former President Olusegun Obasanjo who is in the United States on medical vacation.
The Nigerian Council of State is an organ of the Nigerian Government as stipulated by Third Schedule Part 1B of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The membership of the Council includes the President, who is Chairman; the Vice-President, who is Deputy Chairman; all former Presidents of the Federation and all former Heads of the Government of the Federation; all former Chief Justices of Nigeria; the President of the Senate; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; all the Governors of the states of the Federation; and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The Council has power to:
(a) advise the President in the exercise of his powers with respect to the:-
(i) national population census and compilation, publication and keeping of records and other information concerning the same;
(ii) prerogative of mercy;
(iii) award of national honours;
(iv) the Independent National Electoral Commission (including the appointment of members of that Commission);
(v) the National Judicial Council (including the appointment of the members, other than ex-officio members of that Council); and
(vi) the National Population Commission (including the appointment of members of that Commission); and
(b) advise the President whenever requested to do so on the maintenance of public order within the Federation or any part thereof and on such other matters as the President may direct.