The US Friday came down hard on Nigeria over the state pardon granted first Civilian Governor of the South South Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, and seven others on Tuesday, according to local media reports which said that through its Diplomatic Mission in Abuja, Washington described the gesture by the National Council of State (NCS) as a setback to Nigeria’s anti-graft crusade.
A message sent through its verified Twitter handle, @USEmbassyAbuja, said “The USG (United States Government) is deeply disappointed over the recent pardons of corrupt officials by the GON (Government of Nigeria).”
Another tweet said “We see this as a setback in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.”
Besides Alamieyeseigha, the NCS also granted pardon to former Head, Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama who was, like the former Bayelsa Governor, convicted on corruption charges following investigation and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Former Chief of General Staff, Oladipo Diya; former Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua; and late Major General Abdulkareem Adisa, among others, were equally granted pardon by the NCS.
Meanwhile, Dr. Doyin Okupe, the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, said that the pardon was informed by political expediency.
Okupe claimed that the former governor, being a foremost Ijaw leader, has been a stabilising factor in the sustenance of the Amnesty programme of the Federal Government in Niger Delta.
“People have stated that President Jonathan said publicly that Alamieyeseigha was his political benefactor. This is a display of extreme humility and honesty on the part of Mr. President; in this day that virtually all political benefactors usually turn into enemy number one and are therefore hounded to the ground by the incumbents.
“It was God and Providence that lifted President Jonathan over and above his former political boss. But in truth, Alamieyeseigha since he left prison had been working strenously and silently to assist the President stabilise the amnesty in the region.
“Alamieyeseigha is a foremost leader of the Ijaw nation and his political and stabilising influence in that region have impacted positively on the overall economy of the nation, bringing crude oil exports from the abysmally low level of 70,000 bpd, to over 2.4million bpd!
“Therefore, it is obvious that Alamieyeseigha has been a major player since his release from prison in ensuring that the blood that runs through the Nigerian economy artery is not cut off.”
Okukpe said granting state pardon to the former governor would not undermine the anti-corruption crusade of the government, noting that “the prerogative of mercy by definition is not a justiceable affair.“