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General News of Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Source: legit.ng

Explainer: Does Buhari have the power to pardon former Plateau Governor Joshua Dariye?

A norther group has urged President Buhari to pardon former Plateau state governor, Joshua Dariye. A norther group has urged President Buhari to pardon former Plateau state governor, Joshua Dariye.

A few days ago, a northern group identified as The Movement For A New Arewa urged President Muhammadu Buhari to extend presidential pardon to the former Plateau state governor, Joshua Dariye.

The group said that if the north was to return to its past glory, the likes of Dariye must be released from prison to join in the peacebuilding process.

The development triggered heated reactions from Nigerians who condemned the group’s request. Nathaniel Umar, a Facebook user, said: "That's how we legitimise crime. Our leaders who don't have any pity for the masses steal from the masses and when justice is meted on them, we bring out our pity bags to beg for them. How do you want others to learn from them?"

Another Facebook user, Itamakinde Akinyele, asked an important question that necessitated this report. Akinyele quizzed: “Does he have the power to release him? If yes, on what ground?"

Does President Buhari have the power to pardon Dariye? Before answering the question, it’s important to briefly recall Dariye’s crime. Joshua Dariye, former Plateau governor Joshua Dariye governed Plateau state between 1997 and 2007.

He was elected as the senator representing Plateau Central in the Nigerian Senate in 2015. In 2018, a high court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja convicted Dariye and sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment on charges of criminal breach of trust and two years jail term for criminal misappropriation.

He was said to have looted N2 billion public funds during his time as Plateau governor. The former governor, however, appealed the judgment and got the sentence reduced to 10 years.

Not satisfied with the verdict of the appeal court, Dariye took the case further to the Supreme Court.

However, the apex court in March 2021, affirmed the judgement of the appeal court. This means the former governor has to serve 10 years in jail.

Having served about three years out of the jail term, The Movement For A New Arewa now wants President Buhari to get him out of prison.

Does President Buhari have the power? Section 175 of the Nigerian Constitution (1999) empowers the president to pardon convicts.

According to Section 175(1), the president may: "(a) grant any person concerned with or convicted of any offence created by an Act of the National Assembly a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions; (b) grant to any person a respite, either for an indefinite or for a specified period, of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence; (c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence; or (d) remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the State on account of such an offence."

Nevertheless, Section 175 (2) noted that the president can only exercise the power after consultation with the Council of State.

Thus, the Nigerian president is constitutionally empowered to pardon convicts, including ex-Governor Dariye.

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