By Ogunjimi James Taiwo
“This has got to be the worst use of the benign prerogative by the executive branch since Pilate pardoned Barabbas.” – Kingsley Obalola William Ewetuya
Like every sane Nigerian who heard the bizarre news that Diepreye Alamieyeseigha had had his own breath of ‘fresh air’ from Mr President, sad does not even do justice to my feelings; enraged is more like it. It lends credence to the general conception and knowledge that corruption and misuse of office is what characterise this government.
Few issues have irked Nigerians as much as this issue of ‘Presidential pardon’. Presidential pardon? Who pardoned him? The countless number of people who had their money stolen by this man? The hundreds of children who would not have had to drop out of school had this man not stolen their money? The relatives of those who lost their lives because of lack of a good health plan due to the fact that this same man used more than six years to build a general hospital? The relatives of those who lost their lives on the death traps called roads, because instead of constructing good roads, he chose to spend 10 billion naira on government house? Who pardoned him?
It is the ultimate shame of a nation when the leaders can not give a tenable reason for their actions save for the fact that ‘he is my benefactor’. So, the entire citizenry must be made to ‘pardon’ a man who dares not venture into the UK for fear of getting re-arrested and subjected to the same fate as his ‘thief-in-arms’, James Ibori?
Nothing short of government-induced amnesia can make Nigerians forget or even forgive a man who jumped bail in the UK and had to disguise as a woman to escape prosecution.
In a ‘normal’ society, both the President and the Council of state members that approved the recommendation will be fighting to hold on to their jobs. How on earth can presidential pardon be granted to a man when his crimes are still fresh in our memories?
Has Presidential pardon become as cheap as national honours? People like Bode George and Tafa Balogun can keep hope alive that their pardon is en route too.
We must speak up against these cases of obvious abuse of office. Things must not continue this way; we just must not allow it. Presidential pardon? Seriously? We either speak up now or watch in horror as criminal after criminal gets pardoned.
Ogunjimi James Taiwo is Coordinator, Committee for The Defence of Human Rights, Olabisi Onabanjo University Unit, Ago-iwoye, Ogun State. Nigeria.
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