Pardon for Alamieyeseigha, Bulama amounts to arbitrary exercise of power- SERAP


More disapproval for presidential pardon granted to Mr. Alamieyeseigha.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, a Non Governmental Organisation, has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately rescind the presidential pardon granted to former Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha; and former head, Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama.

SERAP, an organization dedicated to the protection of Human Rights and promotion of accountability in governance, said the prerogative of mercy granted to the two individuals is “a fundamental breach of the country’s constitution and international anti-corruption obligations.”

The organization threatened to sue if the President does not go back on his decision to make both convicts freemen.

SERAP says it will take “national and international legal actions to challenge this fragrant abdication of legal and moral responsibility to combat corruption, which can only ensure that high ranking corrupt officials profit from their crime.”

The newly freed men

Mr. Alamieyeseigha was detained in London on charges of money laundering while he was governor in September 2005. He escaped from the UK in December 2005.

He, however, pleaded guilty in court to a six-count charge in July 2007, and was sentenced to two years in prison on each count charge.

Mr. Bulama was investigated and later prosecuted for corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

In a statement signed by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, and released to the media, Wednesday, the organization said the President’s show of mercy to two men renowned for corruption casts aspersion of the Nigerian government’s ability to deal with the high level of corruption and impunity prevalent in the country.

SERAP said the act “sends a wrong message that corruption pays and those who loot and stash the country’s wealth and resources in foreign banks will enjoy absolute impunity.

“This culture of impunity is responsible for the pervasive and systemic corruption and the associated violations of the basic economic and social rights of millions of Nigerians.”

SERAP added that granting pardon to the two ex convicts also “amounts to an arbitrary exercise of powers, which can only continue to weaken the rule of law, deny justice to the victims of corruption, and entrench a culture of impunity of the country’s leaders.”

The group said that President Jonathan and other state leaders are constitutionally bound to prevent the exploitation of Nigeria’s human and natural resources for any reasons other than for the good of the community.

It said the president has flagrantly abused human rights law as human rights violations, including acts of corruption, should be judged and that the victim should also obtain a remedy for damage suffered.

This right to a remedy, the group said, is one of the basic pillars of the rule of law and democratic society.

“Clearly, the granting of state pardon to those who engage in corrupt acts is incompatible and inconsistent with these core values and principles,” the organization also said.

SERAP asked the Nigerian government to ensure the full recovery of any stolen money and use the funds to address the gross under-funding and inadequate management of the health services and the deterioration of infrastructures in the educational system.

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