A coalition of civil society groups in Plateau State under the auspices of Free Dariye Groups has expressed dismay over what it described as the continued incarceration of the former Governor of the state, Joshua Dariye, more than three months after he was granted a state pardon by the Federal Government.
The PUNCH had reported that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Council of State meeting on Thursday, April 14 granted pardons, under the Prerogative of Mercy, to Joshua Dariye of Plateau State and Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, both serving various jail terms for misappropriation of funds.
According to the coalition, the situation portrays double standards, contradiction, and an abuse of the powers of the President, as the highest constitutional authority in the country.
The spokesperson of the coalition, Rhoda Sanda, said this at a press conference in Jos, the Plateau State capital.
She said, “Our deep concern at the moment is the continued incarceration of Senator Dariye, Dr Jolly Nyame, and others despite the pardon granted him by the Council of State three months ago.
“We are appalled and disturbed that all the necessary authorities concerned to effect his release from prison are still dragging their feet over the matter despite the state of health of the former governor.
“It would be recalled that the Council of State granted him a pardon because of his state of health so that he can go home and take proper care of himself.
“Based on this, the general expectation is that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and all other relevant authorities will act with quick dispatch to effect the presidential pardon. But to our surprise, nothing has been done three months after the pardon.
“It is in light of this development that growing concerns have emerged over his non-release after being granted pardon which has necessitated this Press Conference.
“As law-abiding citizens, and a group with high regards for the Rule of Law, and do not want to fall victims of display of crass ignorance in a bid to understanding the logical perspective to his continued detention.”
Sanda who quoted some legal authorities faulted the continued incarceration of the former governor stating that his release from prison should not have been delayed for more than 24 hours after the pardon was pronounced by the President.
Continuing, she said, “The general belief is that being the highest Constitutional authority in the country, there should be no delay in implementing the pardon.
“We are therefore appealing to Governor Simon Lalong, as a father, to step into this matter and interface with relevant authorities concerned on why one of the illustrious sons of the state, Senator Joshua Dariye is still being held three months after the Presidential pardon.
“Your Excellency, your prompt intervention in this regard will also dispel all manner of insinuations surrounding his continued incarceration and probably unravel why he is still being kept.
“As a father, your urgent intervention is needed and you cannot afford to ignore this clarion call or sit on the fence. The concerned people of Plateau State want to know the reason behind the hesitancy of the Ministry of Justice in issuing his release warrant to the Ministry of Interior and the National Correctional Service.
“We are also making a passionate appeal to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to do the needful and transmit the warrant to the agencies responsible for the release of the former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye, Dr Jolly Nyame and others without any further delay.”
Earlier, the spokesperson for the Nigerian Correctional Service, Abubakar Umar, told The PUNCH that the NCS was not responsible for the delay in Dariye’s release and explained that the duo could not be released by the correctional service until a correspondence from the Ministry of Justice stating so was received.