The Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Festus Keyamo, has come under heavy criticism from Nigerians after President Muhammadu Buhari granted a presidential pardon to former governors of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye; and Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame.
It was reported that the National Council of State had on Thursday endorsed the pardon of Dariye, Nyame, and 157 other convicts following the recommendation of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy.
The 12-member committee, inaugurated by President Buhari in 2018, is headed by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. Dariye and Nyame were jailed for stealing N1.16bn and N1.6bn, respectively.
With the development, Nigerians on social media platforms who described the pardon as a setback to the nation’s anti-corruption war, unearthed Keyamo’s tweet from 2015 where the then human rights lawyer faulted former President Goodluck Jonathan for pardoning convicted ex-Bayelsa State governor, Diepriye Alamieyeseigha.
Keyamo had in his Tweet on February 27, 2015, asked the former president’s supporters to justify Jonathan’s pardon granted to Alamieyeseigha.
The tweet read, “To GEJites: Give us 1 Good reason why pardon was granted to a convicted thief (Alams) when we are even looking for more ex-govs to send to jail.”
Aside from the tweet, Keyamo who is now a minister in Buhari’s cabinet had also issued a statement lambasting Jonathan’s administration for being insincere to the country’s war against corruption.
“It is shocking, confusing, and disheartening that at a time when the general mood of the country indicates that the war against corruption is insincere, slow and a sham, the President deems it fit to even rubbish the very little work that has been done by the anti-corruption agencies in securing the conviction of these individuals.
“It is also disturbing that at a time when Nigeria is still ranking very low in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International the President has further damaged the image of the country by this singular act,” the statement read in part.
But following Buhari’s pardon of Dariye and Nyame, Nigerians on social media, particularly on Twitter, had been condemning the minister for his silence on Buhari’s action.
Reacting to the tweet, Jonathan’s former aide, Reno Omokri, wrote, “Today, the same Festus Keyamo, @fkeyamo, is defending the pardon Buhari gave to former Governors Dariye and Nyame, who were convicted of stealing billions.
Just give them time, they will all expose themselves. May God deliver Nigerians from men without principles.”
A Twitter user with the handle @owoniyilb wrote, “Oga Keyamo, questions are here oooo. Since we needed more corrupt people to checkmate, what is the need for this pardon for high-class robbers while petty ones are left to rot in jail?
Who are the beneficiaries of your 774,000 jobs? Why are you hiding?
Another user @RaphBuff wrote, “How far baba Keyamo? E don clear for all una Buharideens eyes. Your oga is on pardon spree. Pardon this, pardon that even pardon satan join.”
On his part, @iamrumex wrote, “Buhari: anything GEJ can do, I can do ×2. Oya Mr keyamo give us your own good reason why your oga has freed 2 convicted criminals less than 2 years after thy were jailed?
Another user, Victor Ukachi, tweeted, “Hello Keyamo, 2015 called and said to ask you what is the good reason, your principal granted amnesty to, not one but two convicted thieves, when you are looking for even more ex-governors to send to jail.”
@ChidiNdumnego wrote, “Mr. Keyamo, give us ONE good reason why two convicted thieves (who were yet to even serve half of their respective terms) were pardoned by your principal.
While you’re at that, could you be decent enough to turn in your resignation; Bubu has towed a path you feel strongly against.”
Adejumo Kabir also wrote, “Festus Keyamo is a typical example of Nigerian activist turned “Cashtivist” and anywhere belle face.
Years after condemning Jonathan, he’s speechless on Buhari’s action to pardon Nyame and Dariye. No wonder Eedris Abdulkareem called him Senior Advocate Blackmailer of Nigeria.”