“If immorality is pardoned, then there is no incentive for morality.”
“In all ages, the people have honoured those who dishonoured them. They have worshipped their destroyers; they have canonized the most gigantic liars, and buried the great thieves in marble and gold.” –Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899)
“…Alamieyeseigha, a man who until now was known and addressed as His Excellency, has shown himself to be a dishonourable fellow, unfit to rule, unfit to sit among men and women of honour and integrity, unfit to preach to the people he leads about ideas and values…”
–Dr. Reuben Abati (special adviser on media and publicity to President Jonathan, in his article titled, “His Excellency, the Executive Fugitive of Bayelsa state”, written in 2005)
“If immorality is pardoned, then there is no incentive for morality.”
It was on a Wednesday morning, March 12, 2013, I had just woken up from sleep and the weather was wet and slightly windy. After saying my morning prayers, I lay on the bed, lost in thought; I strategized on the imminent journey I was to embark on that day. I was to transverse through four states in the southeast via road, the dilapidated state of the Enugu-Aba-Port Harcourt expressway was my major concern, I thought of how to avoid this road that has caused more harm than good to Nigerians of south-east extraction. My sojourn in wonderland was cut short when my phone beeped; it was the morning update from an online newspaper I subscribed to. I was shocked to my marrows when I saw the first headline.
“Alamieyeseigha, others may get Presidential pardon today”. ‘It is a joke’ I told myself. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the attached link, and within seconds, starring at me in the face, were the full details of the news report.
The language used by the author of the news report that morning was speculative and unconfirmed, based on that, I declined to write on it. My action was a deliberate attempt to avoid being tongue-lashed by some attack dogs\lions, who would readily call me one of the ‘collective children of anger’ (apologies to Reuben Abati), had it been the report was false.
Subsequent news report that evening confirmed that Alamieyeseigha and Shettima Bulama (former head of the Bank of the North) have been granted state pardon by the Council of State. The Council of State is made up of the President, Vice President, all State Governors, former Presidents, the Chief Justice of the Federation, the Senate President and the Speaker House of Representatives. Other beneficiaries of the State pardon were; former Chief of General Staff, Oladipo Diya, ex-Major Bello Magaji NA/6604, Mohammed Lima Biu, Major Segun Fadipe, former Chief of Staff Supreme Military Council, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, and Major General Abdulkareem Adisa (Post Humous).
If the Kangaroo trial and subsequent conviction for coup-plotting by the Sani Abacha administration was sighted as the reason for granting pardon to the ex-Military officers, which I personally consider as a step in the right direction, what could be the reason for extending such magnanimity to Alamieyeseigha and Bulama?. I am completely aghast, aghast at the jaw-dropping affection, effusive support and encouragement showered on Alamieyeseigha and Bulama under the guise of pardon, capped with a well-done-thank-you handshake.
It is a truism that Alamieyeseigha and Bulama were entrusted with leadership roles in the past, yet they failed to impact positively on the lives of the masses. Not only did they fail woefully in attending to the leadership responsibility associated with the position they occupied, they did the unthinkable; they corruptly enriched themselves with public fund, our collective wealth that was supposedly meant to be used for the benefit of the greater majority. It is also on record, that Alamieyeseigha exported corruption out of the shores of Nigeria, having been caught in London by the Metropolitan police. Alamieyeseigha’s model of corruption is emulated by corrupt public officers today. If one is to compile a detailed account of Alamieyeseigha and Bulama’s dealings while in office, one would find embezzlement, short-changing, financial recklessness, racketeering, money laundering, deception, trickery and inflated contracts written all over it. That was the height of wickedness meted out to Nigerians as it were, a stab in the back, akin to an act in an Igbo folk-tale where the dog ate the bone that was hung on its neck for safe-keeping.
Section 36(5) of the Nigerian Constitution as amended provides that, every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty. Having made the above disclaimer, it must be said, and quickly too, that Alamieyeseigha and Bulama were thoroughly investigated, prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction. Based on the fore-going, it was established and proved beyond every reasonable doubt that both men were guilty of the offence(s) as charged. Asking if the sentences pronounced on both men were commensurate with the heinous offences they committed would be a topic for another day.
However, what I am yet to establish is the basis for the National Council of State, NCS, to have granted pardon to men, who threw the decorum and sanctity associated with public office to the dogs, having been convicted for corruptly enriching themselves while superintending over our common wealth. The decision in this wise, a collective one by the National council of State, NCS, to grant state pardon to men whose actions exhibited one of the worst case of corruption creates credibility problem in this government’s acclaimed anti-corruption policy.
In drafting this article, so many questions keep popping up in the inner recess of my mind:
If Alamieyeseigha and Bulama merited such pardon, based on the deceptive reasons adduced in some quarters, why shouldn’t the likes of Ishola Oyenusi, Lawrence Anini, Ching Chong, Osisikankwu, Obidiozor Otokoto, Monday Osunbor, Derico and other notorious robbers, kidnappers and general crime perpetrators who terrorized Nigerians in the past receive such pardon posthumously?
What of James Ibori and Tafa Balogun, don’t they merit such pardon?
What will the Metropolitan Police that found £1m (one million British pounds) in cash at Alamieyeseigha’s London home think of Nigeria?
What message will this act send to our teaming hardworking Nigerians?
What will the International community think of Nigeria?
Are we (Nigerians) serious at all to put a stop to mediocrity?
How can one justify a rogue because he is one’s uncle?
What of Farouk Lawan, the lead actor in the $620,000 dollars fuel subsidy bribery scandal, is he not qualified for a role in the comedy playing out?
John Yakubu Yusuf was the former deputy director in the Police pension office, he was convicted and fined a paltry N 720,000.00 after pleading guilty in a N32.8billion pension fraud case, does he not merit the list?
Are we really fighting corruption or are we doing a lip-service in the crusade against corruption?
What of the Boko Haram sect that have displayed willingness to dialogue with the government, shouldn’t they be granted amnesty if former convicts were granted pardon?
Questions! Questions! Questions!
Recall that on November 10, 1995, the Ogoni born environmentalist, Ken Saro Wiwa, alongside eight other Ogoni sons, namely: Saturday Dobee, Nordu Enwo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel and John Kpuine, were found guilty, albeit illegally, by a specially convened tribunal, without legal representation, and sentenced to death by hanging, by the Abacha regime, for what many believed was largely because of Mr. Saro Wiwa’s strong stance in pursuit of the rights of the Ogoni people. They were executed in the hands of military personnel. Their execution generated outcry around the world and Nigeria was subsequently suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations, the suspension lasted for over three years.
Since 1995, a period of eighteen (18) years, we have repeatedly called for justice in the case of the Ogoni nine who were unjustly convicted, yet our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. If Alamieyeseigha and Bulama could receive presidential pardon, why didn’t Mr. President deem it fit to pardon Ken Saro Wiwa and the other Ogoni eight based on the circumstance surrounding their unjust conviction and execution?
Indeed a comedy script is being played out in the movie box (Nigeria), and the stage is in the villa, the main characters in the comedy play have defied the cry and call of the audience (masses) in the movie box. Mr. Presidents words of “I owe no apology for the action”, (while reacting to the pardon through his spokes-man, Dr. Reuben Abati), and his “I don’t give a damn” answer not long ago, shows the arrogance of power displayed by our leaders. The comedy play is getting feverish-hot; it seems the actors on the stage at the villa will cease to be someday, maybe after 2015. If need be, let it come to pass.
@MrChinkata on twitter.