Nigerians have expressed disgust over the release of jailed ex-Governors Joshua Dariye (Plateau) and Jolly Nyame (Taraba), on Monday, from the Kuje Prison, Abuja, without serving out their sentences.
Persecondnews had reported that the duo was pardoned by the National Council of States on presentation of their cases for amnesty after they were convicted by the courts for stealing public funds to the tune of several billions of naira.
The council at its meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari had three and a half months ago granted them presidential pardon.
An Abuja Federal High Court had on June 12, 2018, sentenced Dariye who served as governor from 1999 and 2007, to 14 years imprisonment for criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of N1.6 billion.
He appealed the judgment and the Supreme Court gave a final verdict of a 10-year sentence for the corruption charges.
Nyame was convicted on May 30, 2018, also by an Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Adebukola Banjoko for diverting N1.64 billion in May 2007 as charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment and asked to refund the monies he diverted.
The Appellate court however reviewed the sentences imposed by the trial court and sentenced him to five separate 12 year term of imprisonment which were to run concurrently instead of the initial 14 year prison term and ordered him to pay a fine of N185 million.
On February 7, 2020, the Supreme Court affirmed the 12 year prison term and set aside the fines imposed on him by the courts on the grounds that they were outrageous and done without any prompting.
However, Dariye and Jolly Nyame were granted pardon by the Muhammadu Buhari administration on April 14, 2022 following the presentation of their cases to the Council which had sparked scathing public criticisms.
Reacting to their release, some Nigerians who spoke to Persecondnews could not hide their discontentment over the news of their release.
“How can people who stole billions of public funds be set free just like that. They barely spent five years of their prison term, while petty thieves who stole less than N20,00, N100,000 or even goat spend more than 15 years or their lifetime in prison.
“The annoying aspect is that it is the actions of looters like this that are driving the nation into poverty and causing the poor to go into all sorts of crimes to survive.
“These people don’t deserve pardon, they deserve to remain behind bars. But, what can we say. We are in a country where the rich get away with crime, so it’s not surprising,” a civil servant, Pius Ikongbe, said.
A businessman, Godswill Nwoye, who also spoke to Persecondnews, said he was not surprised by their release, although he wasn’t expecting it to come so soon.
“This is Nigeria, nothing should shock or surprise you anymore, especially when it pertains to our politicians. This is a political era, so they have reasons for releasing them.
“The pictures of them I saw showed they even have pot bellies. How can you have pot belly or look that fat from prison? Don’t you see how frail, malnourished and haggard a poor man who commits lesser crime looks after his release from prison? ” Nwoye said.
Also, some Nigerians took to social media to ventilate their anger over the news of the two ex-Governors’ release.
@TitilayomiAA tweeted: “Corruption, Lawlessness, Impunity are the order of the day in Nigeria since forever. I hate it so much!”
Another person @Lendochima wrote: “So this is the corruption APC came to fight? by releasing convicted criminals from prison.”
“The world is laughing at us, what pains me most is that we ordinary citizens can do nothing about it, aside from this comment on social media. Oh my God!” another user, @Olayiwola292929 tweeted.
@Yaikuub tweeted: “Released from prison with fat tummy, so fresh and so clean after stealing Billions of Naira!? OK! Well, next move is for them to port & become holy saints.”