CIVIL SOCIETY PRESS STATEMENT ON PRESIDENTIAL PARDON TO DSP ALAMIEYESEIGHA HELD AT TRANSCORP HILTON HOTEL ON THURSDAY, 14 MARCH, 2013
The civil society groups working on anti-corruption and good governance in Nigeria received with shock the presidential pardon granted to the impeached and convicted Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. DSP Alamieyeseigha, along with other persons, after a National Council of State meeting held at Aso Rock Villa on Tuesday, 12 March, 2013. The presidential pardon was granted under a constitutional provision on prerogative of mercy (Section 175). The Council of State meeting was reportedly attended by former president and heads of state, namely: Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Chief Ernest Shonekan and the Governors of AkwaIbom, Anambra, Adamawa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Kaduna, Kebbi, Kwara, Ondo, Ogun, Niger, Kwara, Rivers and Sokoto states.
This action of the Jonathan administration raises concerns about its commitments to the acclaimed fight against corruption. It is a naked dance in the public place, especially when weighed against the arrogant and contemptuous manner with which the Presidency has told Nigerians that it has no apology for the presidential pardon. We in the civil society are convinced that the focus of the whole presidential pardon of President Jonathan was Mr. Alamieyeseigha, except that it was only deceitfully window-dressed by adding a few other names. The action has simply exposed his administration’s open support for corruption, instead of fighting it.
While the civil society appreciates the constitutionality of prerogative of mercy as provided for in Section 175 of the 1999 Constitution as Amended, the decision by the Jonathan administration is immoral, as much as it puts a question mark on the sincerity of the administration in battling corruption. This is all the more so because Mr. Alamieyeseigha’s case about corrupt enrichment and money laundering on which he skipped bail in the United Kingdom is still pending. Thus, the concerns of the civil society are that besides the national embarrassment that President Jonathan’s action depicts, it also shakes the moral foundation of the Presidency as well as portends grave implications for the myriads of corruption cases in the country. Indeed, it has the potential to de-motivate Nigeria’s anti-corruption institutions – i.e. Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) – to effectively deliver on their mandate of fighting corruption.
The action also sends a wrong signal that perpetrators of such crimes are likely to get away relying on their fraudulently acquired political capital, while further re-entrenching corruption such that will become an obstacle to national development and improvement in the lives of citizens. Much more importantly is the international opprobrium this action brings to Nigeria, with further consequences that the country is not genuinely committed to fighting corruption.
Angered by the above, the civil society working on anti-corruption and good governance hereby demands as follows:
That the President Goodluck Jonathan administration immediately reverse the pardon granted Mr. Alamieyeseigha,
That the Jonathan government apologises to Nigerians and the international community for its pro-corruption stance,
That the Jonathan administration should work assiduously to regain its already battered image, by this disgraceful embarrassment to regain the confidence of Nigerians who are disillusioned about the government’s commitment to the fight against corruption, and
That the international community should join Nigerians – home and abroad – to condemn the Jonathan administration on its lone path to destruction and take some practical steps to demonstrate its anger towards the Nigerian government.
We call on Nigerians to brace up to take their destinies in their hands by mobilising a national day of protest against corruption and impunity.
SIGNED ON BEHALF OF CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS WORKING ON ANTI-CORRUPTION & GOOD GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA
Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani)
Y. Z. Yau