Presidential Pardon: SERAP Wants Section 175 of Constitution Amended
By Adedapo Adesanya
President Muhammadu Buhari has been advised by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to review and withdraw the pardon granted to former governors of Plateau and Taraba States, Mr Joshua Dariye and Mr Jolly Nyame, respectively, who were jailed by the court for corruption.
SERAP is also urging him to “propose a constitutional amendment to the National Assembly to reform the provisions on the exercise of the prerogative of mercy to make the provisions more transparent, and consistent and compatible with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations.”
Last week, the National Council of State endorsed the presidential pardon of Mr Dariye, Mr Nyame and 157 others serving jail terms following the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy.
In the letter signed by SERAP deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Impunity for corruption will continue as long as influential politicians escape justice for their crimes. The constitutional power of prerogative of mercy ought not to be an instrument of impunity.”
SERAP said, “The pardon power ought to be exercised in a manner that is consistent with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], particularly the provisions on oath of office by public officers, and section 15 which requires your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.”
It also said, “Indeed, the presidential pardon power must be exercised in good faith, and in line with the provisions of Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution on fundamental rights.”
According to SERAP, “We would like your government to clarify if the pardon granted to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame would entitle them to the return of the stolen assets already forfeited to the government.”
The organisation said, “The pardon also constitutes an interference in the exercise of judicial power. Because the pardon appears to be arbitrary, it undermines the authority and independence of the judiciary and access to justice for victims of corruption.”
The letter, copied to the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, read in part: “The pardon is clearly inconsistent and incompatible with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution, and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption.”
“Presidential pardon for corruption cases is inconsistent with the rule of law, and the public interest, as it undermines the principle of equality before the law. It will undermine public confidence in your government’s fight against corruption, and the justice system.”
“SERAP is concerned that while the pardon power is routinely exercised to shield influential politicians and politically exposed persons from justice and accountability, ordinary people who have committed petty offences but with no money or influential politicians to speak for them, languish in prisons and are rarely considered for pardon.”
“While there is no doubt that Section 175 of the Constitution vests wide discretionary power in the Nigerian president to grant pardon, it does not stipulate the conditions under which such power should be exercised.”
“However, when section 15(5) of the Constitution is read together with the oath, it would seem to impose some ethical conditions on you to ensure that the exercise of the discretionary power of prerogative of mercy is not such that it will encourage corruption or impunity of perpetrators.”
“Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame should have been allowed to complete their jail terms. The exercise of the presidential pardon in their cases would seem to be unfair and undeserving.”
“The investigation and prosecution of the corruption cases involving the pardoned former governors Dariye and Nyame reportedly cost over N300 million of taxpayers’ money. The cases went from the High Court to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”
“Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution provides that ‘The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.’ Similarly, article 26 of the UN Convention against Corruption requires your government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions in cases of grand corruption.”
“Article 26 of the convention complements the more general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption offences.”
“SERAP notes that in your inaugural speech on May 29, 2015, you stated that, ‘We are going to tackle pervasive corruption head on. Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us.’”
“However, the latest Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index shows that Nigeria scored 24 out of 100 points, and ranked 154 out of 180 countries surveyed, falling back five places from the rank of 149 in 2020. This places Nigeria as the second most corrupt country in West Africa.”
“The pardon power, if properly exercised, can help to protect citizens against possible miscarriage of justice.”
“SERAP, therefore, urges you to urgently withdraw the presidential pardon granted to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame, and to propose amendment to section 175 of the Nigerian Constitution that will make the exercise of the power to pardon more transparent and consistent and compatible with the country’s international obligations.”
“Any proposed amendment should also empower the citizens to challenge the legality of any arbitrary exercise of the power of prerogative of mercy.”
Leave a Reply
SERAP Demands Missing $2.1bn, N3.1trn Subsidy Payments Probe
By Adedapo Adesanya
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to probe the allegations that $2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion in public funds of oil revenues and budgeted as fuel subsidy payments are missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019, as documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation.
SERAP, in the first letter to the new president, charged him to “name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the alleged widespread and systemic corruption in the use of oil revenues and the management of public funds budgeted as fuel subsidy and to ensure their effective prosecution as well as the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.”
SERAP also asked him “to promptly, thoroughly, independently, transparently and effectively probe all fuel subsidy paid by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999, and to use any recovered proceeds of crime as palliatives to address the impact of any subsidy removal on poor Nigerians.”
In the letter dated June 3, 2023, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations,” noting that “There will be no economic growth or sustainability without accountability for these human rights crimes.”
SERAP said: “Your government should urgently act to follow due process of law in any policy to remove fuel subsidy, ensure that suspected perpetrators of these crimes against Nigerians are brought to justice, and full recovery of any missing public funds.”
SERAP also said, “Arbitrarily removing fuel subsidy without addressing outstanding accountability issues in the alleged mismanagement of oil revenues and fuel subsidy payments would amount to punishing poverty and further impoverishing the poor while letting high-profile officials and non-state actors get away with their crimes,” adding that, “Any removal of fuel subsidy should not be used as a ploy to keep the poor in poverty while those who allegedly stole oil revenues and fuel subsidy payments keep their ill-gotten wealth.”
SERAP informed Mr Tinubu that, “Under Section 16(1) of the Constitution, your government has a responsibility to ‘secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.’ Section 16(2) further provides that, ‘the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.’
“The UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, to which Nigeria is a state party, obligate your government to effectively prevent and investigate the plundering of the country’s wealth and natural resources and hold public officials and non-state actors to account for any violations.
“Specifically, article 26 of the UN Convention requires your government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’ including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption.
“Article 26 complements the more general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption allegations.”
Governor Akeredolu Not Dead–Ondo Commissioner
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mrs Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, has refuted reports that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has died.
In a statement on Saturday, the Commissioner described the news as fake, though confirming that Mr Akeredolu was truly indisposed.
She said despite the Governor’s state of health, he has been discharging his constitutional duties and has also been delegating some of his functions to others who are competent to discharge them.
She advised members of the public, particularly citizens of the southwest state, to disregard the rumours of the Governor’s death.
“We have been inundated with calls and messages concerning the state of health of the Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. We had chosen to ignore this wicked fabrication until it appeared that certain persons sought to draw political mileage from the disinformation.
“Though the Governor has been indisposed, he has been attending to state matters and delegating functions to functionaries of the government when necessary.
“We enjoin the members of the public to ignore the rumour. Aketi is very much alive,” Mrs Ademola-Olateju said in the statement.
Meanwhile, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor, Mr Richard Olatunde, has released a short video showing Mr Akeredolu watching the FA Cup final played at Wembley Stadium in England between Manchester United and Manchester City on Saturday.
The Governor watched the football game won by the blue side of the city on a large television screen.
FCFA Tasks Nigeria to Adopt Sweden’s Tobacco Harm Reduction Model
By Dipo Olowookere
Nigeria has been advised to adopt the model used by Sweden to achieve Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR), which helped the European nation to reduce smoking rates, thereby promoting a healthier future.
Sweden is moving closer to becoming a smoke-free society, as over the past 15 years, smoking rates have plummeted from 15 per cent to 5.6 per cent, making it the lowest rate in Europe.
This has also put the country 17 years ahead of the European Union’s target, affirming the effectiveness of the Swedish way of making reduced risks alternative products to smoking widely accessible, acceptable and affordable.
Nigeria can also achieve this feat if necessary steps are taken to work toward this, the Foundation for Consumer Freedom Advancement (FCFA) submitted.
While joining others to celebrate World Vape Day 2023 on May 30, the group said it was fully behind the fight to combat smoking charging African leaders to adopt the Swedish model to save millions of lives across the continent to transform public health outcomes and reduce the staggering toll of tobacco-related diseases.
Nigeria continues to face the devastating consequences of smoking-related diseases. The World Health Organisation, in 2022, reported that nearly 30,000 lives were lost in Nigeria due to this.
According to the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction, 4.1 per cent of the adult population in Nigeria are current smokers, representing approximately 4.5 million individuals.
The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction reports that while 7.9 per cent of men in Nigeria are current smokers, only 0.3 per cent of women smoke.
These figures underscore the urgent need for the Nigerian government to prioritize THR and learn from the Swedish model, FCFA said, attributing the success of adopting a smokeless oral tobacco product called Snus and promoting diverse alternatives to traditional cigarettes.
The organisation Sweden offered a range of reduced-risk alternatives such as e-cigarettes or vaping products and nicotine pouches, noting that these alternatives are made readily available in convenience stores, supermarkets, and tobacco stores, simplifying the transition process for smokers.
FCFA has called on the Nigerian government to prioritise Tobacco Harm Reduction, stating that through education, regulation and provision of safer alternatives, Nigeria can empower its citizens to make informed choices and transition from traditional combustible tobacco products.
The group promised to partner with “stakeholders in Nigeria to promote Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives and work towards a smoke-free future.”
Latest News on Business Post
- CSCS Plans Payment of N1.37 Dividend to Shareholders June 4, 2023
- SERAP Demands Missing $2.1bn, N3.1trn Subsidy Payments Probe June 4, 2023
- Cryptocurrency Trading Strategies: Tips for Maximizing Profits June 4, 2023
- HealthXP Unveils App to Revolutionise Healthcare Delivery in Africa June 4, 2023
- Unity Bank Grows Gross Earnings to N57bn in 2022 as Customer Deposits Rise June 4, 2023
- Hullabaloo of Nigeria’s Democratic Transitions June 4, 2023
- Governor Akeredolu Not Dead–Ondo Commissioner June 3, 2023
- Three Securities Shore Up NASD Market Capitalisation by N14.99bn June 3, 2023
- Naira Falls at P2P, Gains at Black Market, Stable at Official Market June 3, 2023
- Oil Closes 2% Higher Ahead Crucial OPEC+ Meeting June 3, 2023
Pingback: SERAP Sues Buhari’s Administration Over Pardon of Dariye, Nyame – Business Post Nigeria – New National Star
Pingback: SERAP Sues Buhari's Administration Over Pardon of Dariye, Nyame | Business Post Nigeria
Pingback: Presidential Pardon: SERAP Wants Section 175 of Constitution Amended - Corruption Buzz