Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN), Femi Falana, on Friday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to grant pardon to Nigerians serving jail terms for petty offences in the country.
The lawyer was reacting to the presidential pardon granted the duo of former Taraba State governor, Jolly Nyame and his Plateau State counterpart, Joshua Dariye, who were convicted in 2020 for financial malfeasance during their tenures in office.
Falana, who made the call at the 1st anniversary of Afenifere’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin’s Lecture and Book Presentation in Ikeja, said granting pardon to convicts irrespective of the class would show fairness and equality of Nigerians before the law.
In his words, “All petty thieves in our prisons should be released. 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.”
Falana also described Odumakin’s death as a monumental tragedy.
“Yinka remained a symbol of justice and we are gathered to celebrate his legacy. He was a man of honour, hope and consistency; a man who gave hope to the masses,’’ he added.
Also speaking, the former Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, said the deceased was a friend who built bridges across ethnic and religious groups.
Amosun said: “His legacy will still remain and the memory of his demise still lingers. My heart goes to his widow, Joe, for staying strong after his demise.”