National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, yesterday, threw his weight behind the recent state pardon granted by President Goodluck Jonathan to former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, and former bank executive, Shettima Bulama, among others, saying they deserved the pardon and called for the understanding of Nigerians.
This came as the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, faulted the president’s decision, describing it as pardon for criminality.
In a statement, Alhaji Tukur called for understanding by Nigerians on the matter, stressing that the beneficiaries of the state pardon deserved the merit based on their conduct over the years as well as the contributions they have continued to make in the task of ensuring peace, progress and prosperity of the country.
The Federal Government had, last week, announced pardon for Alamieyeseigha, Bulama and five others, including late Maj.-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua; former Chief of General Staff, Lt.-Gen. Oladipo Diya; former Minister of Works, late Maj.-Gen. Abdulkareem Adisa; ex-Major Bello Magaji and Alhaji Mohammed Lima Biyu.
The PDP national chairman, who berated opposition parties for incensing Nigerians on the issue through the media, argued that the idea of granting the pardon falls within the exclusive powers of the President as enshrined in the constitution, adding that Jonathan consulted widely before taking the step.
He said it was wrong for any political party, group or individual to harass President Jonathan for granting pardon to those who deserved such, stating that the beneficiaries of the pardon had over the years shown by their conduct that they deserved it.
According to him, granting state pardon to these Nigerians was a clear cut means of getting the best attitude out of individuals as instituted in the political programmes of different countries across the world.
Tukur said in granting amnesty, the attitude and behaviour of beneficiaries were taken into consideration, whereas the contribution of each of them to national growth and development in little ways, according to him, made them to earn the pardon from President Jonathan.
Stop harassing Jonathan
His words: “I cannot understand why our people are politicising the issue of amnesty so granted by Mr President. The question is: do you grant pardon to the innocent? No! Amnesty is granted to those people government felt did some wrongs and after some time, their behaviour and attitude showed that the wrong they did was just a slip. We all call on our God to grant us mercy on the wrongs we do to Him minute by minute.
“The PDP did not see President Jonathan committing any breach of our laws by granting the amnesty. He allowed the constitution to guide his steps. More over, he consulted widely before taking the step and don’t forget that the government announced the amnesty after a council meeting.
“We should stop harassing him because those he had granted the amnesty to are responsible citizens of Nigeria who, in spite of the allegations against them, have continued to assist the Federal Government, the PDP and their respective states to overcome certain challenges. We should learn to respect ourselves as a people and doing so would make us to continue to forge ahead as a country.”
It’s pardon for criminality —CPC
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Rotimi Fashakin, the CPC chided the president over the decision, saying “there is a self-serving agenda by the Jonathan regime ahead of the 2015 election.”
It said: “The power of prerogative of mercy granted to Presidents in various jurisdictions, though discretional, is expected to be exercised with perspicacity and utmost circumspection.
“Though the ostensible and much-trumpeted reason is for national cohesion, we have on good authority that the main reason is a self-serving agenda by the Jonathan regime ahead of the 2015 election.
“Under the Nigerian extant law, which prescribes a 10-year disqualification for any ex-convict, Chief Alamieyeseigha is ineligible for any electoral contest in 2015 since his conviction was done in 2006. As a party, we are aware of the burden of responsibility on us to lend our voice to the vociferous condemnation of this ‘pardon for brazen criminality’ by the Jonathan administration. ”
The party called on the Senate to commence impeachment proceedings against the president if he fails to review the decision of the Council of State.
It said: “Without any scintilla of doubt, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, as President, has ceased from serving the collective interest of the Nigerian people and the nation state. He seems more pre-occupied with political maneuvers, that are deleterious to the corporate existence of the Nation state, than ensuring good governance through enunciation of policies that do not offend the ethno-religious balance of the polity.
“It is, therefore, our considered view, in the CPC, that the Senate should mitigate this national embarrassment from the President’s action by suing for rescission of this amnesty order on Mr Alamieyeseigha and Mr Shettima Bulama or in the event of refusal, to commence impeachment proceedings for gross abuse of executive authority and total disregard for the feelings of the Nigerian people.”
It is justified—Uranta
Also, the NSG scribe, Mr Tony Uranta, argued that Alamieyeseigha deserved the state pardon due to his role in ensuring peace and progress in the Niger Delta region.
Uranta, who reiterated that the pardon was in tandem with practices all over the world, said: “The United States of America during the tenure of Bill Clinton granted state pardon to his brother who was involved in drug trafficking. This notwithstanding, Alamieyeseigha played great roles in bringing the Niger Delta insurgency to an end.
“He risked his life to ensure that there was peace in the Niger Delta so as not to affect the nation’s economy that depends so much on oil for revenue. The former governor is still playing same roles to ensure that the peace in the region is sustained.”
According to him, the peace initiative of Alamieyeseigha has benefitted the country in immeasurable ways.
He said the fact that Alamieyeseigha was from the minority group in the country and that it happened while someone from the region was at the helm of affairs did not make it immoral.
He said: “President Goodluck Jonathan has the prerogative to reject or embrace advice of the Council of States and since he approved of their recommendations showed it is the right thing to do.”
On amnesty to the Boko Haram, Uranta urged members of the sect to come out publicly and surrender their arms.
According to him, “they should also undertake never to terrorize the nation again and that should be the basis for which they should be considered for the privilege.”