A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has kicked against the presidential pardon granted to former governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame.
President Muhammadu Buhari, presiding over the National Council of State meeting on Thursday, pardoned the Messrs Dariye and Nyame who are members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
He also pardoned 157 other Nigerians said to be high-ranking members of the public serving jail terms across the country. The list of the pardonees has still not being made public as at press time.
Reacting to the development, Mr Falana urged the federal government to extend such show of mercy to all petty thieves serving their jail terms or he will mobilise lawyers in the country to protest against the pardon.
The lawyer said it was discriminatory for President Buhari to grant pardon to convicts on the basis of “class and gender” when the country’s constitution guarantees equal rights for all citizens.
“All petty thieves in our prisons should be released,” the lawyer demanded on Friday while speaking at the first anniversary of the late Afenifere’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin’s Lecture and Book Presentation in Lagos. “Under Section 17 of the 1999 Constitution, there shall be equality and equal rights for all citizens.
“Section 42 of the Constitution says there shall be no discrimination on the basis of class and gender, so you cannot take out a few people on the basis that they belong to a category or section of the society.
“I can assure you that if the government did not release others, I am going to call on lawyers whose clients are left in custody to come to court and challenge the discriminatory treatment on their clients.
“Just two weeks ago, a Nigerian was jailed for stealing N1,000 in Abuja; the accused pleaded with the judge that he had no food but the judge jailed him for six months.
“When we are talking of justice and fair play, if you want to pardon some set of people, then you must also extend presidential pardon to petty thieves in the prisons.
“This is because if the big thieves are being asked to go, then they must also extend the facility to other Nigerians,” he added.