There is rising tension in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital over the resumed hearing of the substantive suit filed against the Bayelsa APC deputy governorship candidate, Joshua Maciver over his alleged ineligibility to contest the November 11, 2023 governorship poll.
A female governorship aspirant of the APC, Ikisima Johnson, who also participated and lost the party’s governorship primaries to the eventual winner, Chief Timipre Sylva, is challenging the eligibility of Joshua Maciver and seeking his disqualification as the party’s running mate on the alleged grounds that he is an ex-convict who was sentenced to 10 years prison term for alleged terrorism and sea piracy but escaped from prison without completing his sentence.
In suit number FHC/YNG/CS114/2023/, the APC was listed as the first defendant, while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Chief Timipre Sylva, and Joshua MacIver as second, third and fourth defendants respectively.
Just as a civil society group, Coalition for Social Justice and Equity Initiative has raised alarm over alleged plot by the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Maj Gen Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd.) and the governorship flagbearer of Bayelsa APC, Timipre Sylva allegedly engaging in secret negotiation to insert name of the Bayelsa APC deputy governorship candidate, Joshua Maciver into the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) database and tender an affidavit to back it up in the court.
The group in a statement issued in Yenagoa, called on the presiding judge, Justice Olaide Quadiri and the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to be on red alert to apprehend the Presidential Amnesty Boss, Maj Gen Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd.), the governorship candidate of APC, Chief Timipre Sylva and his running mate, Joshua Maciver, over alleged attempt to submit falsified affidavit and documents to the court.
The civil society group, Coalition for Social Justice and Equity Initiative, through its Public Relations Officer, Ezra Areo, stated that ” information at our disposal has revealed that the duo of the Presidential Amnesty Boss, Maj Gen Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd.), the governorship candidate of APC, Chief Timipre Sylva are plotting to insert the name of the embattled running mate, Joshua Maciver into the Amnesty beneficiaries platform and are planning to submit an affidavit to that effect to the court on Thursday.”
“We are calling on the presiding judge and the inspector general of police to be aware that the document to be tendered are fake and an alleged attempt to lie on oat. Joshua Maciver has long been verified not to be on the list of Amnesty Beneficiaries.”
The group alerted the President and the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu of the alleged attempt to commit forgery, perjury, and contempt of court. They called for the immediate sack of the Presidential Amnesty Boss, Maj Gen Barry Tariye Ndiomu (rtd.) from office.
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 said, “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 without a qualified deputy.”
The group also accused Joshua Maciver of alleged forgery of Federal Government documents. He was alleged to have forged a Presidential Amnesty identification card purportedly issued in August 2009 and numbered BY/B4/007/09.
The group is asking the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to order the running mate’s 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 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 a 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 the same does not in any way seek to pardon or forget the conviction and sentencing of any individual however called.”
It would be recalled that investigations had 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’Adua.
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’Adua in 2009.”