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Wike, presidency fight publicly over pardon to former Govs, other ex-convicts

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and President Muhammadu Buhari’s aides have taken their disagreement over the Council of State’s decision to grant presidential pardon to Plateau and Taraba states’ former governors as well as 157 others after being sentenced by the court for corruption.

Wike stated that the approval by the council chaired by the president has further drawn the country backward and would continuously aid corruption, but the presidency has faulted his stance, claiming that rather than speak after the approval, the governor could have made his opinion known during deliberation, possibly the move could have been suspended completely.

While the Rivers governor linked the move to the 2023 general election, the Presidency argued that there was no political colouration to the decision made during the council’s meeting.

The two ex-Governors were Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame. as well as 157 other former convicts that were pardoned under the prerogative of mercy by the president.

Responding after Wike faulted the move while addressing newsmen during a meeting with PDP delegates at the party secretariat in Minna, Niger State capital on Saturday., the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed that the Rivers governor was invited alongside others.

Shehu noted that rather than attend virtually, Wike directed his deputy to take his seat and that the number two citizen of Rivers switched off minutes after joining the meeting virtually.

In a statement made available to newsmen, the president’s aide described the criticism by the Rivers’ governor as plans to score cheap political points.

“I do not see the moral justification for Governor Wike’s criticism of the decision of the government to pardon Governors Dariye and Nyame at a meeting to which he was duly invited but did not attend.

“The Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Banigo, who joined the Council of State meeting virtually switched off her camera so it was difficult to determine whether she sat behind the dark screen or just walked away after first joining.

“If the Governor felt so strongly about the pardons, the right way for him or his representative was to sit through the meeting and assert views. This did not do. A press release after the meeting is bolekaja politics”,

Earlier, Wike, who expressed total disagreement with the decision made by the Council of State chaired by the president, stressed that the pardon was purely political and it is a wrong decision from a government claiming to be fighting corruption since its assumption of office.

He advised the PDP delegates from Niger state to vote for a candidate like him that was fearless, strong and courageous, and able to move the country forward.

Wike however assured the delegates that he would support any PDP presidential candidate that emerges in a just and fair primary conducted by the party.

The Niger State PDP Chairman, Tanko Beji, commended Wike for his support to the party and promised to reconcile all aggrieved party members.

Beji also advocated for a change in the reward system of PDP where loyalty should be rewarded and punishment be meted out on erring members.

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