The Jonathan presidency got a bloody eye Wednesday in Lagos, when Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, characterized the state pardon granted former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, by President Goodluck Jonathan, as both a corrupt act and an example of state impunity
Mr. Soyinka, who made the comments while opening this year’s edition of the Lagos Black Heritage Festival, also slammed comments made by President Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuben Abati, that those criticizing the immorality of the pardon were suffering from “sophisticated ignorance.”
“On the state pardon granted the former governor, I want to join the bandwagon of the ignorant persons. I am happy to be counted among them. For me, this kind of impunity is not unconnected to the controversy which has been surrounding the N4bn allocation being sought by the First Lady Mission. It is part of the same corrupt mentality,” remarked the professor of literature and renowned author.
Mr. Soyinka said it was odd for Jonathan to equate Mr. Alamieyeseigha’s case with those of the other people he granted pardon because, according to him, the cases of other ex-convicts were largely political, being victims of the late Sani Abacha junta who set them up in a phantom coup.
“What is going on right now gives the picture of a government that is floundering and justifying the unjustifiable. It amounts to encouragement of corruption. The United States Government wants the felon. We have a case of an officer of the law – a governor – who went to another country and broke the law of the nation. He jumped bail.
“I believe that such a person does not deserve a state pardon. So, I have joined the league of the ignorant persons condemning the act. I criticise and deplore President Jonathan for granting pardon to the former governor” he said.
President Jonathan has been the butt of national and international outrage for his controversial state pardon on convicted high profile felons like his former boss, Mr. Alamieyeseigha, and Shettima Bulama a former chief executive of the defunct Bank of the North.
He has also drawn public anger for the pardon of a former army major, Bello Magaji, a homosexual rapist who the Supreme Court of Nigeria jailed for 5 years for serially sodomising four teenage boys.