On Tuesday, 9th March, 2013, the Council of States, an advisory body to the President in Nigeria’s infrastructure on Political governance, was reported to have assented to Presidential Pardon for Mr Diepreye
Alamieyeseigha (former Governor of Bayelsa State), Shettima Bulama (former head, Bank of the North), Lt Gen Oladipo Diya (former Chief of General Staff), Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, Major-General
AbdulKareem Adisa, Major Bello Magaji, Mohammed Lima Biu, Major Seun
Fadipe. The decision was hinged on the Provisions of Section 175 (1-3)
of the Nigerian Constitution. Indeed, subsection 3 expressly states
that: The President, acting in accordance with the advice of the
Council of state, may exercise his powers under subsection (1) of this
section in relation to persons concerned with offences against the
army, naval or air-force law or convicted or sentenced by a
Understandably, there was palpable feeling of outrage among Nigerians
(at home and the Diaspora) on the amnesty granted to Mr Diepreye
Alamieyeseigha and Shettima Bulama. The reason for this was that,
these two Nigerians were convicted for obscene corruptive tendencies
and nauseous rapacity. Whilst Shettima Bulama was apprehended for
embezzling the funds of his employers, Bank of the North; Diepreye
Alamieyeseigha (as Governor of Bayelsa) was arrested in UK for
laundered $3.2million in cash and Bank accounts.
He subsequently jumped bail and returned to Nigeria before being impeached by 17 out
of the 24-member Bayelsan state assembly. The arraignment before a
Federal High Court found him guilty and was sentenced accordingly.
What is galling in the entire saga was the sheer impunity exhibited by
the obsequious apologists of this corruption-prone Presidency of Dr
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Dr Doyin Okupe, the garrulous and overly
cocky special Assistant to the President on Public affairs, told a
bewildered Nation (on behalf of his Boss), “I owe nobody any apology.”
The hubris of that assertion is seen in the inebriation with power
that is often linked with holders of executive authority in Nigeria.
The Nigerian state, as a State Party, is a signatory to the United
Nations Convention against Corruption enacted through the General
Assembly resolution: 58/4 of 31 October 2003. As reasons for this
legal instrument, the UN Secretary –General stated inter-alia that:
“Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive
effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law,
leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the
quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other
threats to human security to flourish. This evil phenomenon is found
in all countries—big and small, rich and
poor—but it is in the developing world that its effects are most
destructive. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting
funds intended for development, undermining a Government’s ability to
provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and
discouraging foreign aid and investment.
Corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and a major
obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.”
The Power of Prerogative of Mercy granted to Presidents in various
jurisdictions, though discretional, is expected to be exercised with
perspicacity and utmost circumspection. From President Gerrard Ford’s
amnesty to the impeached Mr. Richard Nixon (of the Watergate scandal
fame) to President Shehu Shagari’s pardon extended to General Yakubu
Gowon and Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu; Prerogative of mercy have
always been used to rehabilitate individuals convicted of political
transgressions after unmistakable show of penitence. From any
recollection of contemporary history on Prerogative of mercy, this is
the first time that convicted felons- individuals that have destroyed
the moral fabric of society through unbridled grand larceny- would be
granted presidential pardon! President Goodluck Jonathan, known for
devious schemes, had tried to conflate political transgressions and
criminal infractions in the lame attempt at hoodwinking a Nation with
this obviously nauseating Pardon to his former political benefactor.
Though the ostensible and much-trumpeted reason is for national
cohesion, we have on good authority that the main reason is a
self-serving agenda by the Jonathan regime ahead of the 2015 election.
Under the Nigerian extant law- which prescribes a 10-year
disqualification for any ex-convict- Chief Alamieyeseigha is
ineligible for any electoral contest in 2015 since his conviction was
done in 2006.
As a Party, we are aware of the burden of responsibility on us to lend
our voice to the vociferous condemnation of this ‘pardon for brazen
criminality’ by the Jonathan administration. The wider implications of
the infra-dig by this regime concerning the issue are very worrisome.
Section 175 (1d) of the Nigerian Constitution which deals with amnesty
states: ‘remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on that
person for such an offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise
due to the State on account of such an offence. ‘Does this imply that,
by this amnesty, the assets unjustly accumulated by Chief
Alamieyeseigha and forfeited to the Nigerian state shall be remitted
to him in part or whole?
Would this not send wrong signals to the International community
that Nigeria is a big enclave of institutionalized corruption?
Would this not discourage potential investors and extirpate the
implementation of the much-touted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)?
By this action, is the Jonathan regime not festering the cankerworm
of corruption and implicitly encouraging the succeeding generation on
imbibing that culture?
Would this action not be antithetical to the spirit and letter of
the UN charter against Corruption to which Nigeria is a signatory to?
Without any scintilla of doubt, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, as President,
has ceased from serving the collective interest of the Nigerian people
and the Nation state. He seems more pre-occupied with political
maneuvers- that are deleterious to the corporate existence of the
Nation state- than ensuring good governance through enunciation of
policies that do not offend the ethno-religious balance of the polity.
It is therefore our considered view- in the Congress for Progressive
Change (CPC)- that the Nigerian Senate should mitigate this national
embarrassment from the President’s action by suing for rescission of
this amnesty order on Mr Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and Mr Shettima
Bulama; or in the event of refusal, to commence impeachment
proceedings for gross abuse of executive authority and total disregard
for the feelings of the Nigerian people.
God bless Nigeria.
Rotimi Fashakin (Engr)
National Publicity Secretary, CPC