Nigeria Labour Congress NLC said on Thursday it was “ alarmed by the decision of the National Council of States to pardon Mr.Diepreye Alamieyeseigha who was impeached as Governor of Bayelsa State and eventually convicted by a properly constituted court for stealing public funds; and Mr. Shetima Bulama a former Managing Director of the Bank of the North who was also convicted for misappropriating the bank’s funds.
“While we appreciate that the Council of States does have a constitutional responsibility to pardon citizens who have obviously been convicted or punished in the past for offences, it is totally unacceptable that those who committed economic crimes in such magnitude that affected public interest be granted state pardon.
The NLC Statement signed by its President Abdul Wahed Omar said “We still wonder what message the National Council of state is sending to Nigerians if at the height of unprecedented corruption in the country those who have been prosecuted and jailed for stealing public money are granted state pardon.
“The Congress finds it incongruous the state pardon granted to the former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreiye Alamieyeseigha and Mr Bulama
“While like other citizens, they may be entitled to state pardon, Congress believes that the crimes committed are too weighty for state pardon.
“It is our view that state pardon remains an act of mercy or reprieve dispassionately exercised or granted by the highest authority in the land for and on behalf of the government and people, and it should be a last act of mercy sparingly exercised for the good of the nation. State pardon is recognized across the world not for its own sake but for its potential and capacity for redressing judicial guilt, rewarding penitence, or for initiating reconciliation, and in some instances, for ensuring restoration, but never losing sight of national interest.
NLC said “We are surprised that eminent members of the National Council of States could not have deeper reflections on the list brought before them by the Presidency before giving their endorsement.
“Congress believes that decisions as weighty as state pardon should be well thought-out, transparent and devoid of any ulterior motive and accordingly, call for a reversal of the decision.
“We also wish to remind those who canvass the view that the decision is sacrosanct because the National Council of States approved of it that the buck stops at Mr President’s table. And in any case the role of the Council of State is strictly advisory.
“Congress in the light of the foregoing wishes to advise Mr President to make ample use of the machinery of state for wider and more qualitative consultation before taking weighty decisions.Congress also holds the view that the confidence any government enjoys is to a large extent determined by the quality of advice it takes in the interest of the people
Omar said “If the anti corruption battle must be won, the Presidency must lead by its actions.
In a related development, a group, Democratic Advancement Option (DAO) said in a press release that at its extra-ordinary meeting in its Corporate Headquarters at No. 30, Panama Street Maitama, Abuja, held to review the current happening in the country, it examined some issues of national significance.
Godfrey Ishegbe,national secretary of DAO said the group “examined the trip of President Goodluck Jonathan to Borno State and the current Amnesty granted to some deserving Nigerians. While commending Mr. President for a successful trip to Borno State, it agreed with Mr. President that those desiring Amnesty should unmask themselves as government has been consistent on the issue of dialogue. Government has demonstrated sincerity of purpose and transparency when members of the sect for the first time appeared openly to address a Press Conference and they left peacefully without any molestation or arrest. We believe if Boko Haram is sincere in its dealings, it should come out to negotiate rather than embark on kamikaze style where there are conflicting signals from the group as to the authenticity and veracity of the ceasefire.
“ As regards the Amnesty granted to imminent Nigerians especially for the former Governor of Bayelsa State Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, we believe the President acted in good faith and in consonance with the powers vested in him by the law. We are satisfied that like many others of his time Alamieyeseigha was a victim of the excesses of the ruling government of his time which had extended the law against graft to mean intimidation and harassment leading to impeachments even at an arranged sitting at the EFCC Headquarters. There is nothing wrong in granting Amnesty to a Nigerian by the President of Nigeria for an offence committed in Nigeria. As to any other offence committed elsewhere it should be pursued by the prosecuting authority. Their action should not encumber the President from granting such Amnesty to deserving Nigerians. The sudden trivialization of the powers of the President by some members of the opposition is certainly very unfortunate. These are exercisable powers even by judges, governors etc in the due discharge of their duties. What stops the President from doing so? Is it because Alamieyeseigha is from his state and as such is barred from granting such respite to his kinsman where the person so qualifies.
“DAO supports the action of Mr. President and believes that they are proper and in line with the laws of the land. It believes that such courageous pronouncements are needed to continuously sustain our democracy.