Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha
Challenges northern leaders to work for peace in the region NBA: Pardon is a wrong signal
By Senator Iroegbu andTobi Soniyi
The presidency has again defended the state pardon granted the former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, saying he deserved it because he worked to restore peace in the Niger Delta region.
However, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday added its voice to the condemnation of the pardon granted Alamieyeseigha, describing the act as a bad signal in the fight against corruption.
The Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Inter-Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi, who joined other presidential aides to defended Jonathan’s gesture towards his former principal, disclosed this at the launch of FEWZ magazine yesterday in Abuja.
Jonathan was deputy to Alamieyeseigha from 1999 to 2005 when he was impeached and was subsequently put on trial and jailed for money laundering.
Obi said the former governor should be forgiven because he had paid for “his sins” by his contribution to peace in the Niger Delta.
Citing the Alamieyeseigha’s contribution as an example, he urged northern leaders to replicate the same gesture in their region, wreaked by terrorism, to end the state of insecurity foisted on the people.
He said: “This man (Alamieyeseigha) had sinned and has been punished. Moreover, he has since then helped to bring peace in Nigeria, which is one of the basic reasons he was pardoned.
“I will also want to see people who will come out from the North no matter what, and help bring peace in the northern region. Let us have peace, let us see who is who from the region please.
“Boko Haram has done so much damage to the economy of the North that it would need to be rebuilt wholly. From this standpoint of insecurity, it will be difficult to ensure democratic stability. So, at the end of the day, what we are saying is that we need a lot of tranquility across the length and breadth of this country. We therefore need those who can come out to ensure peace reigns.”
Obi also debunked the suspicion that the decision to pardon the former governor was taken by Jonathan alone.
He explained that such decisions are collectively taken by the Council of State.
He wondered why Alamieyeseigha should be singled out for criticism when he was not the only one granted pardon.
“The issue of pardon is a collective decision of the Council of State. The Council of State is not only President Jonathan, it comprises former heads of state, chief justices of the federation and governors.
“So I think the pardon was not done without the contribution of the members of the council. It is always good for people to understand the crux of the matter. It is also not about the issue of Alamieyeseigha as he is not the only one pardoned,” he added.
On the call for amnesty for members of Boko Haram made by some prominent northerners, including the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, the presidential aide said such call should be backed with the understanding of how it could end terrorism.
He also said Boko Haram members had not shown remorse as they have continue to unleash terror on the public.
He condemned Monday’s attacks at a motor park in Kano, which he described as an act of cowardice on the part of the perpetrators.
He said: “It’s highly condemnable after all the gesture and hand of understanding the government is extending to them, the terrorists still believe in killing innocent people.
“It is a cowardly act when you go to the bus stop to blow up people who want to travel from one destination to the other, and then you blow them up like that. This does not show any intent of courage but an act of cowardice.
“The Sultan of Sokoto has called for amnesty, and then we will have to see how this thing can work out. The people of the region should also create a level of understanding so that the amnesty may be considered,” he said.
Fielding questions from journalists after the unveiling of the association’s website, NBA’s President, Chief Okey Wali (SAN), said though the president, in consultation with the Council of state, has the constitutional power to grant State pardon to any Nigerian citizen, the one granted Alamieyeseigha and Shettima Bulama was a wrong signal.
Wali said that the pardon was a moral issue and that well-meaning Nigerians had spoken loudly on it.
“Unless you know what the Council of States put into consideration in granting Alamieyeseigha and others the state pardon, you cannot say much on it, but to me as a lawyer, it was a bad signal to the fight against corruption,” he said.
He said the President has the power under the constitution to grant State pardon to any Nigerian citizen, in consultation with the Council of state, but the issue was whether he used the constitutional powers rightly or wrongly.
Commenting also on the proposed fuel increase by President Jonathan, Wali said the Federal Government needed to put in place necessary infrastructures which he promised on January last year before removing fuel subsidy in the country.
He said the president made some promises of providing infrastructure that would cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal, adding that it would be an ill-advice for the president to remove the subsidy without providing necessary infrastructure.
Wali, in fulfilment of the promises made to lawyers before his election yesterday inaugurated a Web-Portal where the data of lawyers in the country can be assessed.
Addressing the journalists at the inauguration, the NBA boss said the Web-Portal would enhance effective administration/management of all members of the association in the country.
The portal, according to Wali contains, among other things, the list of all lawyers called to Bar, as registered in the Supreme Court from pre-independence days up till date, noting also that the portal contained the list of over 25,000 active lawyers who had carried out their verification exercise.