Professor Wole Soyinka has slammed President Muhammadu Buhari for granting presidential pardons to former governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame jailed over multi-billion naira theft.
The former governors, along with 157 others, will be released from prison after the Council of State approved a proposal by Buhari’s government to grant them a state pardon.
Dariye and Nyame were imprisoned for stealing public funds to the tune of N1.16 billion and N1.6 billion respectively.
Dariye’s prison term was later reduced to 10 years by the Court of Appeal in Abuja but his conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court in February 2020 upheld the conviction and 12-year jail term given to Nyame, for misappropriation of funds while he was governor of Taraba State.
Dariye was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Dariye’s prison term was later reduced to 10 years by the Court of Appeal in Abuja but his conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
Reacting in a statement on Tuesday, titled: “A Putrid Presidential Easter Egg,” Soyinka said that the president’s action is one egg squashed against Nigerian faces that they shall not forget or wipe off in a hurry.
The Nobel Laureate said, “I am persuaded that the recent largesse from the nation’s president has already won a few hearts and minds to the ranks, if not of outright atheism, then at least to a healthy skeptical regard of piety spouting leadership that sees nothing wrong in attempts to extinguish the life of a young man for an honest declaration of conviction, while veterans of broken pledges are let loose to further infect a world they have betrayed. No pardon has been extended in the direction of endangered, youthful integrity.
“Of course, it is easy to track the trajectory of events. Nettled by increasingly scabrous comments, such as those of his predecessor in office, Olusegun Obasanjo, who declared that this incumbent has run out of ideas, that he has nothing left to offer the nation, Muhammad Buhari decided to embark on the Easter train and donate an Easter egg of truly presidential proportions to his subjects.
“Coming from a leader who had placed all his eggs in one basket, labeled Anti-Corruption, this is one egg squashed against Nigerian faces that they shall not forget – or wipe off – in a hurry. It evokes the legend of Pandora’s box whose contents are alleged to constitute all the ills that plague the world.
“Putrid to the core, allied to power provocaions in numerous variations, such as catapulting a notorious player in the martyrdom of a serving Minister of Justice to the hub of governance wheel, these define the nature of bequests that have brought the nation to this moment of near dissolution. Precedents are no consolation, no excuses.
“One states the obvious in remarking that precedents either undermine or reinforce principles, and aspiring offenders, especially in the political domain, are encouraged or inhibited by the ease or difficulty of access to the fount of mercy. Office holders, we presume, are constrained by the existence of that dangling Sword of Damocles – simply knowing that one day, the cloak of immunity will turn threadbare, and the awaited day of reckoning finds them answerable.
“Clearly, not any longer. You will forgive, though disagree with me, I know, for clambering onto the Easter wagon myself, to echo the words of the One whose passage through the world the Easter season commemorates:
“It is finished!””