The National Council of State, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday granted state pardon to former Governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame of Plateau and Taraba States, respectively.
The two former governors were serving jail terms for corruption.
Also pardoned along with the former governors at the Council’s meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja were 157 other prisoners.
Among those pardoned are: a former military general and minister under the Sani Abacha regime, Tajudeen Olanrewaju, an army lieutenant colonel, Akiyode, a former aide of General Oladipo Diya as Chief of General Staff under the late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha; and all the junior officers jailed over the 1990 abortive Gideon Orkar coup.
The full list of those pardoned is, however, still to be obtained.
According to a presidency source, the two former governors were pardoned on health and age grounds.
Nyame, 66, was governor of Taraba State from 1999 to 2007, and until he breathed the air of freedom, 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.
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In the same vein, Dariye, 64, who ruled over Plateau State between 1999 and 2007, was jailed for stealing N2 billion of public funds.
The former governor, elected as senator representing Plateau Central in the Senate in 2015, was sentenced in June 2018 but still completed his tenure, though a prisoner, in June 2019.
In 2021, he nearly escaped conviction at the Supreme Court as a five-man panel of the court headed by Justice Mary Odili quashed his conviction regarding criminal misappropriation in a unanimous decision.
However, the offences he was discharged of only attracted two years’ imprisonment and, so had no significant impact on his overall number of years of imprisonment.
The apex court, as such, upheld the ex-governor’s conviction as per criminal breach of trust, which attracted a 10-year jail term.
The meeting of the Council of State was attended by former presidents and military heads of state, except former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was conspicuously absent.
Obasanjo is said to be in the United States on medical vacation.
The Nigerian Council of State is an organ of government empoweref by the Third Schedule, Part 1B of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Members of the Council are: 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.
It, as stipulated in the Constitution, 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.