Former Governors of Abia, Plateau and Taraba states, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu, Sen. Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame respectively, did not qualify for the presidential amnesty granted to 2,600 inmates across the nation’s correctional facilities.
According to the spokesman, Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS), Chuks Njoku, the peculiarities of the ex-governors’ cases rendered them not qualified.
Although many observers had touted the ex-governors to benefit from the pardon announced by Interior Minister, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on Thursday, they eventually missed out.
Aside from being convicted of money laundering and corruption, the three Kuje Custodial Centre inmates also reportedly fell short of the criteria set by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy, which advised the President on inmates and ex-convicts deserving pardon.
Speaking on the criteria, Aregbesola said that inmates considered included those who are 60 years and above, suffering from ill-health likely to end in death, serving at least three years with less than six months left, with mental issues, as well as with options of fine not exceeding N50,000.
The minister explained that those jailed for violent offences such as terrorism, kidnapping, armed banditry, rape, human trafficking and murder did not qualify for the presidential pardon.
While Kalu is serving a 12-year jail term imposed in 2019 for N7.1 billion money laundering, Dariye bagged a 16-year term for N1.126 billion fraud in 2018, and Nyame was sentenced to 14 years for corruption to the tune of N1.64 billion.
Recall that former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh is also serving his term at the Kuje Custodial Centre like the three ex-governors having been sentenced to seven years jail term upon conviction for receiving N400 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser under Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Speaking on why the ex-governors did not make the cut, Njoku told The Punch, “We have our criteria and they are not qualified (for pardon). They don’t fall under any of the categories. If you were convicted, you must have served some years and you must be of good character and must have shown remorse.
“It is not just about age; there are many of them who are old but they are not qualified. So, for anyone to benefit, they must have served for some time and their crime must not be a capital offence. They (ex-governors) are not qualified because they just came (into the custodial centre) and some of them are still on appeal.”