Lagos, Nigeria - A Nigerian Non-Governmental Organization Wednesday urged President Goodluck Jonathan to 'rescind without delay' the presidential pardon he granted a former governor of his oil-rich Bayelsa state, Mr. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, and former head, Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama, both of whom were convicted of corruption charges.
In a statement made available to PANA in Lagos, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said the pardon 'is a fundamental breach of the country’s constitution and international anti-corruption obligations.”
SERAP threatened “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.”
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.
Back in Nigeria, he pleaded guilty in court to a six-count charge in July 2007, and was sentenced to two years in prison on each count charge.
For his part, Mr. Bulama was investigated and later prosecuted for corruption by the anti-graft Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
SERAP said the state pardon granted both men by President Jonathan 'shows without doubt that this government lacks the necessary political will to tackle high-level official corruption and 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.”
The organization said the granting of pardon 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.
Presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe Wednesday confirmed the pardon granted the men, as well as several former top military officers who were accused of plotting to overthrow former Nigerian military dictator Sani Abacha