Alams Deserves To Be Pardoned For His Role In Amnesty – Tony Uranta

The Executive Secretary of the National Summit Group (NSG), Mr Tony Uranta, has condemned the widespread criticism that has greeted the pardon granted to the convicted former Governor of Bayelsa state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, saying the man has admitted the crime he committed and has served his time for his conviction.

Speaking on our breakfast television programme, Sunrise Daily Mr Uranta, stated that the former governor who has remained a prominent Ijaw leader, played a prominent role in the prevailing amnesty that has restored peace to the Niger Delta and therefore deserves the pardon.

“Alamieyeseigha contributed enormously to the on-going amnesty in the Niger Delta and every Nigerian is currently benefitting from because via the increased crude oil production that has doubled after the amnesty” he said.

“He played a great role in helping to keep peace in the country and he done his time in prison” he added.

Minority card

The Presidential ally also drew the ethnic sentiment when he asked that “should Alamieyeseigha not be pardoned because he is a minority?”

He further asked why there is no similar brouhaha over the other beneficiaries of the pardon that came from other major tribes in the country.

“Why the focus on Alamieyeseigha when coupists are amongst those that were pardoned?”

The National Council of States, headed by President Jonathan on Tuesday granted state pardon to Mr Alamieyeseigha and other ex-convicts including Major Genral Oladipo Diya, Major Bello Magaji, Mohammed Lima Biu, Late Major General Abdulkareem Adisa (Post Humous), Major Segun Fadipe and former head of the Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama.

According to Mr Uranta, the military coup plotters engaged in a higher level of corruption than the convicted former governor because they truncated the nation’s constitution to enrich their pockets.

He also asked why there was no similar uproar following the pardon granted to the first Speaker of the fourth republic, Mr Salisu Buhari, who was pardoned by President Olusegun Obasanjo just hours after his conviction.

Mr Uranta also recalled that former President Obasanajo was also granted pardon after he was convicted and sentenced to death for an alleged coup plot.

The social commentator urge all Nigerians to respect the decision of the National Council of States, emphasising that it was not a decision reached by the President on his own.

“If all former Chief Justices, former Presidents and all serving governors sat down and decide that these people deserve to be pardoned, then I think we should all respect that.”

Alamieyeseigha Is Remorseful, Nothing Is Wrong In Granting Him Pardon – Okupe

The Senior Special Assistant for Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe has queried the criticism that greeted the state pardon granted a former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and other ex-convicts by the National Council of States.

Mr Okupe, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said Nigerians must learn to respect the decisions taking by those in positions of authority whether it is favourable or not.

“It is like a parent, it is not every decision a parent takes that is palatable or acceptable to the children,” he said.

The National Council of States, headed by President Jonathan on Tuesday granted state pardon to Mr Alamieyeseigha and other ex-convicts including Oladipo Diya, Major Bello Magaji, Mohammed Lima Biu, Major General Abdulkareem Adisa (Post Humous), Major Segun Fadipe and former head of the Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama.

Mr Okupe said he has no apologies for the decision which was taking by an institution created by the Nigerian constitution.

“What is wrong in giving a remorseful sinner pardon?” Mr Okupe asked.

Okupe Confirms Pardon For Ex-convicts, Alamieyeisegha, Diya, Others

The Senior Special Assistant for Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe on Wednesday confirmed media reports that the Council of States has granted state pardon to the former Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.

Former Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreiye Alamieyeisegha

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Okupe listed the other ex-convicts that were granted state pardon to include: Oladipo Diya, Major Bello Magaji, Mohammed Lima Biu, Major General Abdulkareem Adisa (Post Humous), Major Segun Fadipe and former head of the Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama.

Over the years, presidential pardon has been an instrument of power used by Nigerian leaders to unconditionally set free prisoners of conscience and political detainees. The president’s power is exercised after seeking advice from the National Council of State.

The Council of State is comprised of the president, all former heads of the government of the Federation, all former Chief Justices of Nigeria, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, all state governors and the attorney general of the federation.

It was in 2005 that the man who topped the list of those granted state pardon was arrested at the Heathrow Airport in London on suspicion of money laundering. At that time, he was the governor of Bayelsa State in Nigeria’s south-south region and boss of President Jonathan who served as his deputy.

The arrest of Former Governor Alamieyesigha followed investigations by the Proceeds of Corruption Unit of the London Metropolitan Police. Investigators later found an amount equivalent to about 1 million dollars in his London home.

He was granted bail after the arrest on the condition that he would remain in the UK but 3 months later and despite the bail restrictions, the former governor managed to flee the United Kingdom and return to Nigeria.

It was believed that he intended to resume office, after assuming that he was safe from prosecution because of the constitutional immunity he enjoyed as Governor.

A few days after his return however, he was served impeachment notices outlining 8 impeachable offences against him. A month later in Dec 2005, Two thirds majority of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly voted to impeach Governor Alamieyeseigha.

This effectively removed him from office and also removed his domestic immunity paving the way for his arrest and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), led then by Nuhu Ribadu.

In July 2007, he eventually pleaded guilty to six counts of making false declaration of assets before Justice Mohammed Shuaibu of a federal high court, Lagos in what later came to be known as a plea bargain arrangement. In sentencing him to 2years, the court also ordered a forfeiture of some assets, including N1 billion shares fraudulently obtained with funds of the government of Bayelsa State.

It is for these offences that President Goodluck Jonathan has now bestowed a state pardon on his former boss.

Major Oladipo Diya, on his part is a retired Lt. General in the Nigerian Army. The former Military Governor of Ogun State and former Chief of the General Staff, during the Sani Abacha military regime. He was arrested for treason in 1997.

He and a group of dissident soldiers in the military were alleged to have planned to overthrow the regime of late Gen Sani Abacha. The alleged coup was uncovered by forces loyal to Gen Abacha, and the former Chief of general staff was subsequently jailed.

He was tried before a military tribunal, was given the death penalty. However following public outcry to the secrecy of his trial and after the untimely death of Gen Abacha in 1998, Gen Abdusalam Abubakar, the then head of state in March 1999, commuted the death sentence to a 25yr jail term and eventually Gen Diya was granted amnesty and released.

The other accused persons charged, convicted & sentenced with Gen Diya are Maj. Gen. Tajudeen Olanrewaju and Maj. Gen. Adulkareem Adisa, Major Segun Fadipe, Major Bello Magaji and Mohammed Lima Biu all of whom have also now been granted state pardon.

While most of the others are alive to enjoy the pardon, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Major-General Abdulkarim Adisa are post-humous beneficiaries.

While General Adisa died in a car crash, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua the elder brother of former Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua died in detention in Dec 1997. He was serving a life sentence for calling on the Nigerian military government of Gen. Sani Abacha and his Provisional Ruling Council to reestablish civilian rule.

For many however, the most controversial of these state pardon remains that granted to the former governor of Bayelsa state  and the former managing director of the Bank of the North Nig Plc, Alhaji Shettima Mohammed Bulama, both of whom were convicted for fraud after an arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).