Human rights activist and lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, has faulted the state pardon granted to former Governors of Plateau and Taraba, Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame respectively.
The former governors, who were jailed for corruption, were pardoned alongside 157 others at the Council of State meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday.
Speaking during the one year remembrance programme for the late Publicity Secretary of the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Yinka Odumakin, Falana described the release of the politicians as discriminatory.
Falana stressed that it was wrong to grant state pardon to the two of them who were convicted for stealing state funds.
He said under the 1999 constitution, there is equality for all citizens, adding that the state pardon has to be extended to all thieves and criminals serving jail terms in various prisons.
Falana said, “My reaction is that all criminals, all thieves and criminals in our prisons should be released.
“Because section 17 of the constitution says there shall be equality, equal rights for all citizens and section 42 said there shall be no discrimination on the basis of class, gender, whatever, so you can’t take out two people and leave the rest there. It’s illegal.”
He said he might be forced to ask lawyers whose clients are still in prison to go to court and challenge the discriminatory treatment.
At the event attended by prominent personalities including the leader of the Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Presiding Pastor of the Citadel Global Community Church (CGCC), Pastor Tunde Bakare, among others, the pro-Democracy activists reiterated their call for genuine restructuring, saying the struggle for restructuring is a struggle for freedom.
Falana suggested that the 1999 constitution should be referred to as decree 24 on 1999 as “it was not duly signed.”
He said: “What the National Assembly has continued to do is to amend illegality. The so-called 1999 constitution is really decree 24 of 1999. When you see the so-called constitution, you will not the signature of the man who signed the law, that’s the fraud.
“When you see a law, the name of the person who signed it should be there with the date.
“Decree 24 of 1999 was promulgated by General Abdulsalam Abubakar on the 5th of May 1999 but today you will not see his name on it. It’s a fraudulent document.
“The decree was imposed on us the last set of military dictators in Nigeria headed by Gen. Abubakar and because that document is okay for members of the ruling class regardless of their political parties, ethic regional or religious inclination, they are all comfortable with the document so they can’t do anything about it including all those we are campaigning today to be President.
“It is to retain the status quo and perhaps adjust it here and there, that is the only thing they are saying, so those who are contesting particularly on the platform of the ruling party are saying we are going to continue the programme of the Buhari administration that has put our country in problem.
“Nigeria has become a huge joke in the committee of nations and so for any set of people to say they want to package his rickety vehicle and begin to panel beat it, it’s not going to move.”