The United States of America on Wednesday affirmed its criticism and opposition to the state pardon granted to former Governor of Bayelsa State, Dipreye Alamieyeseigha by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The spokesperson for the US Department of State, Victoria Nuland at a daily press briefing in Washington on Wednesday said, “we see this as a setback for the fight against corruption, and also for our ability to play the strong role we’ve played in supporting the rule of law and legal institution-building in Nigeria, which is very important for the future of the country obviously.”
“We have made clear to Nigerians that this puts a question mark on the kinds of work that we’ve been trying to do with them.
When asked if the US will take any action against the Nigerian government, Nuland replied, “we haven’t yet taken the kinds of steps that you’re suggesting Matt (the reporter who asked the question), but we’re continuing to look at what’s appropriate.”
Mr. Alamieyeseigha who is also wanted in the United Kingdom for money laundering charges was granted state pardon by President Jonathan with authorisation from the National State Council alongside a few others convicted Nigerians.
Condemning the decision, the US Embassy in Abuja had through its Twitter handle @USEmbassyAbuja, described the pardon as “a setback in the fight against corruption.” The move was promptly criticised by the Federal Government.
The Political Counsellor of the Embassy; Gregory Lawless, at a teleconference on US-Nigeria Bi-national Commission in Abuja on Wednesday, also told journalists, that “the situation has not changed”.
He maintained that his country has not departed from its earlier statement where it condemned the action.
He however noted that whatever the disappointment was the US had since moved on with its relationship with Nigeria.
”We have a very mature relationship. So we can recognize our differences and opinions on issues. We are moving on we have a lot of things to do”.
Lawless also assured Nigeria of the US support to tackle violent extremism.
Responding to a question on the proposed amnesty to Boko Haram members, Lawless said “we are a working group as government of Nigeria embraces a more holistic approach to the issue of violent extremism, whether it is in the north or other areas. We think it is a positive development. We will work with Nigeria government as it develops its own policy approach to counter violent extremism.”