Controversy has continued to trail Wednesday’s state pardon granted the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha and eight others with the United States of America yesterday joining the league of those opposed to the Federal Government’s action.
President Goodluck Jonathan who approved Alamieyeseigha’s pardon served as his deputy in office.
The US Embassy in Nigeria made the country’s position on Alamiesiegha’s pardon known on Twitter in Lagos yesterday, describing it as a setback to the fight against graft in the country.
“We see this as a setback in the fight against corruption,” Embassy spokeswoman Deb MacLean said.
Jonathan takes Nigeria backward — Malami
A Seniour Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Abubakar Malami, has also criticised the pardon granted Alamieyeseigha and others indicted for corruption, saying that the action had ridiculed Nigerians before the international community.
Malami spoke in an interview with Saturday Vanguard in Abuja yesterday, pointing out that Jonathan had taken Nigeria many steps backwards in the current fight against corruption by that ‘’singular act of indiscretion.’’
However, Senator Clever Ikisikpo defended President Jonathan for granting pardon to Alamieseigha saying it was to right the humiliation meted to him by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Ikisikpo said it was the Nigerian government that actually offended Alamieyeseigha by stripping him of his immunity as a serving governor which led to his arrest in London and consequent impeachment and prosecution. He blamed the former governor’s troubles which he said were not only ‘’political but orchestrated,’’ on Obasanjo.
Former Senate Chief Whip, Senator Rowland Owie, also commended President Jonathan for the gesture, just as he frowned at those criticizing the pardon granted Alamieyeseigha, pointing out that “after all former President Olusegun Obasanjo was pardoned after he was released from prison before he became President”.
Pardon not wrong — Owie
Owie who said that there are Nigerians who had ‘’committed more heinous crime than Alamieyeseigha but who are walking round the streets freely today,’’ stressed that there was nothing wrong pardoning any repentant Nigerian, since “we all ask God every day to forgive us our sins.”
President Goodluck Jonathan had granted pardon to eight Nigerians including Alamieyeseigha, the former Chief of General Staff, General Oladipo Diya; the late former Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters and brother of late President Umaru Yar’Adua; Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua; Major Bello Magaji, rtd, Mohammed Lima Biu, former Head, Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama, Major Segun Fadipe, rtd, and late Major General Abdulkareem Adisa (post humus).
However, of all those granted pardon, Alamieyeseigha and Bulama’s had been generating a lot of criticisms, with many of the critics saying that the government’s action had dealt a death knell to the war against corruption in the country.
President Jonathan served as Alamieyesiegha’s deputy while in office and his impeachment marked the start of Jonathan’s rise in Nigerian politics.
The Associated Press, which reported the position of the US on Alamieyesiegha’s state pardon stated, ‘’The United States has criticized Nigeria for issuing a pardon to a former governor convicted of corruption who is a political confidant of the nation’s president.
In messages Friday on Twitter, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria said it was deeply disappointed over the pardon issued this week of former Bayelsa state Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was impeached and later convicted in Nigeria. Investigators said he likely stole millions of dollars while in office. We see this as a setback in the fight against corruption. Embassy spokeswoman Deb MacLean said that officials had no further immediate comment. Nigeria is a top U.S. crude oil supplier.’’
It’s vexatious action by FG
In his reaction to the the state pardon for Alamieyesiegha, Abubakar Malami, SAN, expressed disappointment with the Federal Government, describing it as ‘’vexatious.’’ Malami further said that the government had lost the moral right to talk about fighting corruption by freeing those who were prosecuted and jailed for high level of graft running into billions of Naira thereby stifling the nation’s economy.
“I am so disappointed by the action of Mr. President on this vexatious pardon granted to people who stole the nation black.
What lesson is he telling other criminals who are lurking around the different sectors of the Nigerian economy?
‘’Although the President had the right to grant pardon to prisoners of conscience, the law does not permit him to grant amnesty to criminals who have stolen the nation’s resources with impunity. As far as I am concerned, Jonathan should have been mindful of the timing of the pardon considering the current effort by anti-corruption agencies to tackle high calibre corrupt individuals in the country as well as the current political situation in the country.
Obasanjo was equally pardoned and made President
Senator Owie in has reaction described as absurd, the criticisms against Jonathan when former President Obasanjo was also pardoned in 1998 and later made president.
“It is unfortunate that many of us in this country always want to play to the gallery. What is wrong in Alamieyeseigha being pardoned.
Is Alamieyeseigha not better than those who spent over $16.5 billion for electricity and not a megawatt was produced? Was Obasanjo not pardoned when he was brought out of prison and made President of Nigeria. Did he not seek a third term after spending two terms of eight years as President?
Who is not guiltless?
“Our Lord Jesus Christ was specific when he said: let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her. Alamesiegha’s assets were forfeited, he was jailed and he completed the jail terms. What else? After all what has happened to Obasanjo and Ribadu who got Alams impeached illegally? What happened to those who organized the official kidnapping of Governor Chris Ngige, then a sitting governor of Anambra state.
“Let those who have turned themselves to be judges in this matter be guided by what St Paul said: all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Let those pardoned and still alive engrave in their hearts, the injunctions of our Lord Jesus Christ which says go away and sin no more” Owie added.
In his spirited defence of Jonathan, Senator Ikisikpo told Saturday Vanguard at Imiringi in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State yesterday that Nigerians should support the President for his bold stance in correcting the wrongs of the past instead of criticizing him.
His words, “recently Mr. President granted state pardon to Alamieyeseigha and others and there has been lot of criticisms on why he should grant pardon to his benefactor.
Many people will not know why the man, Alamieyeseigha is supposed to get pardon.
“Alamieyeseigha was a governor of BayelsaState; he served his first tenure and was in his second tenure and under our law every governor has immunity and no person in Nigeria including the President has the right to strip any governor of his immunity. But the then President Obasanjo stripped Alamieyeseigha of immunity which was wrong because no person by law in line with the constitution of Nigeria has the power to do that.
“So, that gave the opportunity for the British police to arrest Alamieyseigha and lock him up. By right, it is the Nigerian government that offended Alamieyeseigha for stripping him of his immunity. So what Mr. President has done is to correct the injustices done to him; the humiliation meted to Alamieyeseigha.
“So when people start criticizing, I believe they did not look at the law properly. If they do, they will give kudos to Mr. President for what he has done. Jonathan is out to right the wrongs that were done.”
Need to reabsorb ex-convicts — Okupe
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe had while defending the state pardon to the former Governor of Bayelsa State, said that the very idea of a pardon showed that it was not meant for the innocent, but for those who might have been found guilty of some offences and have either finished serving their sentences or in the process of serving those sentences, adding that ‘’the framers of the Nigerian constitution envisaged the need for some ex- convicts to be re- integrated back into society especially if they have shown penitence and willingness to contribute positively to societal growth.”