By Ephraim Oseji
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and former Delta State governorship aspirant, Chief Sunny Onuesoke, has said the pardoning of two convicted former governors would encourage the looting of public funds in Nigeria.
Senator Joshua Dariye, former governor of Plateau state and ex-Governor Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, who were imprisoned for stealing N1.16bn and N1.6bn respectively were among 159 prisoners pardoned by the National Council of State.
Briefing newsmen at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Onuesoke said the development would boost “looting spree” among top government officials.
He stated the present government was elected on the belief that it would jail looters and sanitise the country, lamenting that rather than jail more looters, government is pardoning convicted ones.
His words: “What was the yardstick used in pardoning these criminals? Why did they not include James Ibori, Lucky Igbinedion, Alaimayesigha (posthumously), etc? Why are the courts still trying other suspected looters if they would be pardoned later? It is a waste of court processes and time.”
He said Nigeria must be seen to treat all citizens fairly and equally, noting the country will not move forward on its anti-corruption drive if it keeps treating “elite convicts more special than others.”
“Many persons are languishing in prison awaiting trials for petty crimes as small as burglary. I bet some of these petty criminals didn’t even have the opportunity to be considered at all. We will not move forward in our anti-corruption drive if we keep treating elite criminals as more special than other criminals.
“There is no fight against corruption in the first place. This pardon shows the law is for the powerful, rich and connected. How can you pardon them after stealing our patrimony? This country has a long way to go,” he added.