What now remains for President Muhammadu Buhari and his 2014/15 hurriedly cobbled political party through a gang-up, All Progressives Congress (APC), is to insert corrupt practices in our Constitution as legitimate practice even if dictated. All those languishing in jails should be freed, celebrated and honored by the Buhari administration for their deployed expertise and courage in stealing public funds through different guises budgeted for development and the good of the people.
First to be exonerated from any allegation of corruption should be our national lawmakers who have mustered the art of monetizing constituency projects through their companies and in connivance with fronting contractors.
Not only that, the lawmakers have specialized in intimidating and threatening Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies that refuse to play ball while some have their stooges planted in strategic federal government establishments including the anti-corruption agencies for perfection of dubiousness.
The National Council of State has recently approved the pardon of former governor s of Plateau and Taraba States, Joshua Chibi Dariye and Rev. Jolly Nyame who was earlier de-robed of the priesthood for his filthy ways of living. The pardon covered 157 other convicts following the recommendation of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy.
The 12-member committee was inaugurated by President Buhari in 2018, headed by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN.
Recall that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) arraigned both Dariye and Nyame on account of embezzling public funds amounting to N1.126billion and N1.64billion respectively.
It took over a decade of rigorous and diligent prosecution before the hammer of conviction finally fell on both thieves. How could the country spend millions of naira, time and energy diligently prosecuting these cases only for the convicts to be set free at one meeting on flimsy excuse of deteriorating health? How many convicts are there languishing in jails battling their health but not pardoned?
With the untimely release of the duo, nobody needs to be told that the anti-corruption war of the Buhari administration has been compromised. It was a slogan used against the PDP in 2015 for cheap votes.
A nation unduly pandering with her justice system in favor of the thieving elites is already a doomed nation. There should never be different strokes for different people in the face of the law and dispensation of justice. The full wrath of the law should evenly apply no matter who is involved.
From the set record, if the APC is mistakenly trusted with another mandate in 2023, thieving lawmakers that plundered public resources and monetized constituency projects with pride of arrogance will be made principal officers in the legislature should they return or appointed to key federal appointments for business as usual. APC is corruption personified from its antecedents in power!
Nigeria is a country that plays politics to the extent of turning truth on its head. When former president Jonathan pardoned his former boss, the governor of Bayelsa State, Depriye Alamiyesiegha hell was let loose by the then opposition APC. Both Nasiru El-Rufa’i- present Kaduna State Governor and Festus Keyamo SAN, present Minister of State Labor, took the former president to the cleaners on that matter.
On February 27, 2015, Festus twitted: “To GEJites : Give us 1 Good reason why pardon was granted to a convicted thief (Alams) when we are even looking for more ex-governors to send to jail.”
He would issue an additional statement: “It is shocking, confusing, and disheartening that at a time when the general mood of the country indicates that the war against corruption is insincere, slow and a sham, the whole President Muhammadu Buhari who’s credibility rating against corrupt practices was part of what made it easy for him to scale the election, now deemed it fit to even rubbish the scanty achievement recorded by the various anti-corruption organizations in securing the conviction of those pardoned high-profile shameless criminals that are more deadly to their societies than renowned bandits, armed robbers and kidnappers for ransom.
It is also disturbing that at a time when Nigeria is still ranking very low in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International the president has further damaged the image of the country by the singular act”.
Governor Nasiru on his part was even more blistering. He said on a national television: “nobody said you should eradicate corruption but don’t go around – you know pardoning convicted people that have been convicted by regular court for corruption and you say you are fighting corruption. You are sending a wrong signal not only to those engaged in corruption but also to the younger ones who see that there is reward in being corrupt. That is what Jonathan is doing. Tell me which government before him that pardoned corrupt criminals.”
Many have finally come to the sad conclusion that APC as the present ruling party about to exit for the good of the country is not only worse but shamelessly and arrogantly corrupt with pride. The release of the release of the two high profile criminals has sent wrong signals to the international community on the sincerity of Buhari and his APC in fighting graft. It shows how unserious our leaders are in entrenching transparency and accountability in governance. This underscores the fact that the evil of corruption will take more time to obliterate.
The implication is that those who are in position of authority can now go on stealing-spree knowing full well that even if caught and with their connection to the corridors of power, the National Council of State needs only to sit but once and they are set free. In other words, laws are not meant for the rich. The poor of the society have been jailed for stealing wrapper, goat, duck or food stuff while the rich and thieving politicians who steal billions are merely given a slap on their wrist not to sin anymore.
But should that application of selective justice be allowed to continue or we should revolt and correct the system? At best, we should opt for jungle justice. We should strive to hasten and correct the injustice by ourselves no matter what it takes for the good of all including the thieving leaders.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues