There is trouble brewing in the fold of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State following the threat by the transparency group, Coalition for Social Justice and Equity Initiative to approach the court over the alleged ineligibility of the Deputy Governorship candidate of the Party, Joshua Maciver for the November 11th, 2023, Governorship election in Bayelsa state.
According to the Coalition for Social Justice and Equity Initiative, Joshua Maciver was allegedly convicted by an honourable court, and was sent to Kaduna state to serve his 10 years sentence for murder and terrorism. Maciver, according to the group, however, did not complete his sentence and escaped from prison by allegedly pretending to be sick and needed treatment.
The group, through its Public Relations Officer, Ezra Areo, also claimed that despite being declared wanted by the Ministry of Interior and the decision of the administration of Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to offer Presidential pardon to militants during the militancy days in the Niger Delta, Joshua Maciver refused to embrace the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) fearing that the Amnesty programme was a clandestine ploy by the federal government to round him and others up. Areo stated that “Maciver has over the years publicly claimed to have accepted the Amnesty programme, however, he never presented himself for proper documentation like the 30,000 Amnesty beneficiaries to the Presidential Amnesty team. Maciver was not alone in this reasoning as over 10,000 ex-agitators felt the same way.”
The group insisted that the Former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, the Leader of the APC in Bayelsa and the Governorship candidate of the Party, Chief Timipre Sylva has again allegedly done a great disservice to the party both nationally and within the state by presenting a Deputy Governorship candidate with more than just a questionable character but allegedly a convicted murderer, terrorist, and prison escapee for the State election.
According to Ezra Areo, “by the provisions of section 31, 33 and 34 of the Electoral Act, the time for nomination of a new running mate has lapsed. It simply means that the candidature of Chief Timipre Sylva cannot stand alone with a qualified deputy.”
“How can Timipre Sylva nominate a man with such questionable records to stand as his running mate? The State which has many qualified and credible individuals. Is that how low Sylva thinks of the APC as a party, President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is the leader of the party, and the people of the State?”
The group also accused Joshua Maciver of alleged forgery of Federal Government document. He was alleged to have forged a Presidential Amnesty identification card porpurtedly issues in August 2009 and numbered BY/B4/007/09.
The group is asking the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to order his immediate arrest for forging a Federal Government document.
“It is common knowledge that sometimes on the 25th of June 2009 the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Late Musa Yar’adua issued AMNESTY PROCLAMATION wherein he granted amnesty to Niger-Delta Militants. It is also important to state that Amnesty is usually and generally, addressed to classes or even communities wherein it allows the government of a Nation or State to “forget” criminal acts, usually before prosecution has occurred. Amnesty has traditionally been used as a political tool of compromise and reunion following a war, which offences are usually politically inclined.”
“In the case Joshua Maciver, he was allegedly convicted by a competent court of jurisdiction sometime in 2006, for murder and terrorism and an alleged fugitive which conviction has no relation with militancy activity, therefore the amnesty proclamation of 2009 which cannot operate to serve as a pardon for the conviction of the offences committed by Joshua Maciver, which is not in any way associated with militant activities in the Niger-Delta.”
“At this juncture it is also imperative to understand the difference between amnesty and pardon. While AMNESTY is targeted towards group of people for forgetfulness of offences of political nature, PARDON seeks to set aside the punishment of an individual, for a criminal who has been TRIED AND CONVICTED. By the AMNESTY PROCLAMATION made on the 29th of June, 2009 same does not in any way seek to pardon or forget the conviction and sentencing of any individual howsoever called.”
A legal practitioner and a failed State House of Assembly candidate of the Party, Benjamin S. Ogbara had in a letter to the Presidential Amnesty office requested for the full details of the renunciation form and document of Joshua Maciver, claiming that the APC Deputy Governorship candidate owned the Joshua Maciver Militant camp with over 237 militant youths.
Ogbara also claimed that Joshua Maciver has never deviated from the Presidential Amnesty since 2009 and that a suit filed against his non-embracement of Presidential Amnesty before the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa by one Hon. Isikima Ogbomade Johnson, in suit numbered FHC/YNG/114/2023 is ongoing.
Areo, in the statement backed with documented evidence, claimed that the chieftains of the APC in Bayelsa have been on desperate attempts to allegedly force the Presidential Amnesty Office under Maj Gen Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd.) to insert his name in the Amnesty data base failed.
Investigations have also revealed that the Presidential Amnesty office under Maj Gen Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd.) have disowned Joshua Maciver as not being a “beneficiary of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua pardon in 2009.”
It was gathered that the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) had through a letter signed by the Permanent Secretary, (General Services), Nnamdi Maurice Mbaeri PhD on the 7th of July, 2023 and with reference number SGF 19/S.105/178, requested for confirmation of Joshua Maciver as one of the beneficiaries of the Presidential pardon offered by late President Musa Yar’Dua.
But the Presidential Amnesty Office in a letter dated same 7th of July, 2023 and with reference number OIA/PAP/IAO/Vol.V/417 with the signature of the Interim Administrator, Maj. Gen Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd.), replied the SGF that there is no record in the PAP data that indicate that the said Joshua Maciver is a beneficiary of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
According to the letter, “Joshua Maciver’s name does not appear in the data bank either as ex-agitator or delegate registered in the PAP. Consequently, we cannot confirm if an unconditional pardon was granted to Joshua Maciver by Late President Yar’Dua in 2009.”
Recall that the Supreme Court had in 2020 sacked Chief David Lyon of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as governor-elect of Bayelsa State, barely 24 hours to his inauguration. A five-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Odili nullified the election of Chief Lyon on the grounds that his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification for the November 16, 2019 governorship election in State. The Supreme Court agreed with an earlier ruling of the high court on the matter.
The apex court in the judgment delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko consequently ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Messrs Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo. The judge also ordered that INEC should immediately declare the party with the highest number of lawful votes and geographical spread the winner of the election.