Two Bribed To Doctor Presidential Pardon List -EFCC

Two officials of the Federal Ministry of Justice have been indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),for allegedly receiving bribe to smuggle the name of a jailed banker, Francis Atuche, into the list of convicts recently granted pardon by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The two indicted officers, according to an EFCC’s report seen by PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, August 10, served in the secretariat of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy (PACPM).

While Emmanuel Fan headed the PACPM secretariat, the other suspect, Lawrence Marinus, was a member of the secretariat. They were both drawn from the Federal Ministry of Justice to serve in the PACPM secretariat.

One other yet-to-be verified person, who allegedly paid the bribe on behalf of Mr Atuche, is being tracked by the EFCC, according to the Commission’s report.

TheFact Daily reports that the 12-member PACPM headed by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had recommended 162 convicted persons for pardon and other forms of clemency in a list sent to President Buhari and the Council of State on 14 April, 2022.
Of this number, the Council of State approved pardon for 159 of the recommended persons. The names of three others were rejected, one of which was that of Mr Francis Atuche, the former Managing Director of Bank PHB, who was, in June 2021, sentenced to six years in prison for stealing the bank’s N27 billion.

Mr Atuche was, on the PACPM’s list submitted to the Council of State, “recommended for clemency on the grounds of life-threatening ill health”. But the recommendation was rejected by the Council of State.

However, Malami, on 6 June, sent a petition to the EFCC alleging that the PACPM’s final report was “doctored/tampered with” to include Mr Atuche’s name.

The AGF, whose petition presented “a case of conspiracy, abuse of office and corruption”, pointed an accusing finger at the PACPM secretariat.

EFCC subsequently arrested and interrogated some of the members of the PACPM, the PACPM secretariat and the ACJRD.

According to PREMIUM TIMES, a source at the EFCC who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said that “investigation into the smuggling” of Mr Atuche’s name into the list of the “Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy has been concluded.”

A copy of EFCC’s report addressed to Mr Malami indicted the head of the PACPM secretariat, Mr Fan, and another member of the secretariat, Mr Marinus, as colluding to include Mr Atuche’s name in the PACPM’s list.

According to the findings of the anti-graft agency, Mr Mrinus received money from Mr Fan and the yet-to-be-known agent of Mr Atuche. The amount of money that allegedly exchanged hands in the bribery scam was not given.

The report of EFCC’s investigation said, “Efforts are in top gear to arrest other co-conspirators” for prosecution.

Meanwhile, Mr Fan denied any wrongdoing, adding that he had yet to be informed of the outcome of EFCC’s investigation.

“I am not aware of my indictment by the EFCC. I know nothing about the allegation,” he said, adding, “I am not aware of any outcome of EFCC’s investigation over the allegation. We were only invited and questioned. Since then, we have not received any information that I have been indicted. I’m shocked to hear that I have been indicted (by the EFCC),” Mr Fan said.

But the second suspect, Marius, could not be reached at his office on Wednesday.

Two former governors of Plateau and Taraba states, Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame, were among the persons granted pardon by the Council of State in April.

Messrs Dariye and Nyame, who were serving various jail terms at Kuje prison in Abuja, were only released on Monday.

Credit: PREMIUM TIMES

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