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MAGNUS ONYIBE

is an entrepreneur, public policy analyst, author, development strategist, alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Massachusetts...

In terms of party affiliation, it may not be mere coincidence that Dariye a former governor and senator originally from the PDP stable is currently a member of the ruling APC to which he has cross-carpeted as a ploy to gain soft landing . Similarly, Nyame who became governor of Taraba state through the PDP platform has also crossed the aisle by becoming a member of ACN which is a legacy component of the APC also in a bid to gain leniency.

It is not a mere happenstance that the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Dasuki, rtd, who did not cross carpet to the ruling party has served a long period of incarceration under the watch of the current administration, ostensibly for the misappropriation of $2.1 billion budgeted for fighting terrorism. Although he is no longer in incarceration, like Dariye and Nyame, he too deserves an apology from the authorities and his prison record should be quashed because he was not actually convicted, but was jailed perhaps because of his role in the previous administration which created some existential threats to the victory of the current ruling party, APC over PDP at the polls in 2015, hence the APC had an ax to grind with him.

Adjunct to the case being made for the presidency to be equitable in its pardon of convicts and the need to be compliant with the provisions in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria in doing so; it may be recalled that a member of the House of Representatives, Denis Idahosa, had in September 2021 also drawn attention to the alarming number of Nigerians illegally detained or jailed in other jurisdictions without proper or inadequate legal representation.

Take the case of the young Nigerian lady(student ) Zainab Aliyu convicted and condemned to death in 2018 for trafficking in narcotics in Saudi Arabia. Commendably, as Nigerian authorities were convinced me that she was innocent of the crime , every legal and diplomatic tool available to our country were deployed to save the innocent young lady’s life. In the same manner that the lady was practically rescued  from the valley of death, the concerned and very patriotic lawmaker, ldahosa believes that the federal government needs to leverage diplomatic platforms in assisting Nigerians wrongly convicted and jailed in foreign jurisdictions/countries. Idahosa’s concern is based on a 2019 survey report by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEPAD), which revealed that about 16,500 Nigerians are in prisons outside Nigeria that were convicted either without legal representation, perverted and concocted evidence that remains unsubstantiated.

In that regard, the Nigerian government should also leverage diplomatic channels to seek the quashing of the conviction in the United Kingdom, UK of the likes of Chief James lbori, ex-governor of Delta state that was jailed in that country without verifiable evidence. With his back literally pushed against the wall, lbori settled for a plea bargain, UK style. It is believed that the prosecutors obtained the deal after much intimidation and coercion involving the torment of his close family members including his wife, only sister, and mother of his child that were shackled in a manner similar to the tactics employed by mobs-like Italian mafia to compel victims to do their bidding. In the event that the Nigerian government is unable to cause the UK authorities to pay him reparations for wrongfully jailing him which appears to be the fear of the UK judicial system that failed to find any laundered funds in Ibori’s custody or bank accounts abroad, as it had alleged, his jail records should be erased or quashed. That is simply because the crime was phantom since the Nigerian government — federal or state never declared any money missing, how much more trace it to Ibori. If there is any justice in the world, the fact that British prosecutors could not prove the case beyond reasonable doubts against Ibori is a redeeming factor and enough reason to declare the trial null and void, as it is actually a political witch hunt that went too far. In my reckoning, and presumably in the optics of men and women of goodwill all over the world, justice denied is not only grave injustice but a slur on the British judicial system and a burden on the conscience of mankind.

Taken all together, the point being made is that the National Council of States, NCS should guide and encourage president Buhari to have a broader perspective when exercising the prerogative of mercy constitutionally granted to him, by focusing his gaze beyond the privileged members of the political class to all other classes of Nigerians deserving of clemency.
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