Former Governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame, jailed for corruption, got a reprieve yesterday.
They will be released from prison with 157 others following the acceptance of government’s proposal for pardon by the Council of State.
The Council, which met for the fourth time under President Muhammadu Buhari, took the decision in exercise of its prerogative of mercy for convicts.
The recommendation was made by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
The Council also approved the proposal to give national awards to 434 Nigerians, as presented by Minister for Special Duties Chief George AKume.
Another major decision at the meeting is the approval of a national census to hold next year April after the general election.
President Buhari will meet with Security chiefs on Tuesday on the spate of killings, kidnappings and violence in the North and Southeast, following recommendations from the Council, according to Jigawa State Governor Abubakar Badaru.
Badaru was one of those who spoke with reporters at the State House after the meeting.
Although, Malami did not give the names of those pardoned, it was learnt Dariye and Nyame were on the list.
The attorney general said the Council of State approved 159 of 162 applications presented for consideration.
The Council, he said, rejected the proposal to pardon one of the prisoners sentenced to 120 years for stealing over N25 billion. The reason for seeking the pardon was because of life threatening illness.
Although the AGF didn’t mention the name of the convict, a source privy to the meeting, said former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche.
The second person was convicted for forgery and sentenced to 14 years. He has stayed in prison for a year and six months.
The third person obtained money by false pretence and was sentenced for seven years.
It was learnt that the two ex-governors were pardoned for health reasons.
Dariye, who has been in and out of hospital, also suffered emotional challenges after his father, Dariye Dafwan, was killed in June 2020 after payment of N10million ransom to kidnappers.
He was sentenced in June 2018 14 years by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
In November 2018, the Court of Appeal reduced the sentence to 10 years, which was affirmed by the Supreme Court in March last year.
Nyame’s sentence was affirmed by the Supreme Court in February 2020.
He was on trial for 11 years for diverting N1.64 billion during his tenure between 1999 and 2007.
Due to illness, Nyame had sought bail after conviction but the court opposed it. At a point he cried out for not having access to his herbal medicine.
A source at the meeting said: “Both Dariye and Nyame were granted freedom based on the conditions for prerogative of mercy in Section 175(1-3) of the 1999 Constitution.
“We went through the applications of AGF Malami and we found merit in his recommendations.”
Director-General of National Population Commission (NPC) Nasir Isa-Kwarra, said the NPC would conduct a pilot census in June, after political parties must have concluded their pre-general elections activities.
The NPC chief, who recalled that the last census was held in 2006, said the commission will deploy high technology to conduct the census.
He said through census data is generated for planning, noting that the data now in use are mere projections and obsolete.
“It is very crucial because I have highlighted that the census is a very important exercise for the nation. Because through census we generate the data that we use for policy making, for planning, for development, by the three tiers of government, and the private sector, they all need this.
“If you are in private sector, you’re producing something, certainly, you need to know the population of an area if you want to create a market there”, he added.
The meeting observed a minute silence in honor of former Head of Interim National Government Ernest Shonekan, who died on January 11.
The Council of State met under Buhari on October 21, 2015, September 7, 2016, and August 2020 before yesterday’s meeting.
The Council of State is a body charged with responsibility of advising the President on crucial national issues.
Members of the Council include: President, Vice President, past presidents, Senate president, House of Reps Speaker, Chief Justice of Nigeria, serving and past.
Others are attorney general of the federation, governors and the minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Those who attended yesterday’s meeting are: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno, and Chief of Staff to the President Prof. Ibarahim Gambari.
Former heads of state in attendance were Gen. Yakubu Gowon and Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar. Former President Goodluck Jonathan also attended.
Others attended the meeting virtually from their locations.
Governors in attendance are: Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), among others. Other governors attended virtually.