The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Wednesday, kicked against the recent pardon granted to the convicted former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha by President Goodluck Jonathan, describing it as a bad signal to the country’s’ quest to purge itself of corruption.
NBA which is the umbrella body of legal practitioners across the country bared its mind on the issue on a day it commissioned a web-portal it said was not only geared towards enhancing the rule of law in the country, but equally directed at gathering vital data and information of all lawyers in Nigeria.
Speaking through its National Chairman Chief Okey Wali, SAN, NBA, further cautioned the federal government against its decision to go ahead and remove subsidy on fuel, insisting that such action will be ill-advised since the government is yet to provide the necessary palliatives it promised Nigerians early last year.
Consequently, NBA, implored President Jonathan to focus his attention of the provision of basic infrastructure, adding that, “we believe that the government must first and foremost, do what it has promised to do.”
“You will remember that the action that various groups took against that same decision last year was coordinated action, we believe that the government must first of all do what it has promised to do. It is not enough to say that subsidy must go, all those promises must be fulfilled first, among which included enhancing the transportation system in the country.
“The NBA believes that since we have not seen the infrastructure that was promised, it will be ill-advised for the government to proceed on that track without putting infrastructure in place. We advice that it will be a bit shameful in this 2013 for us to go back and start demanding for what we think was already agreed upon since 2012,” he added.
While inveighing the pardon that was granted to Alamieyeseigha, the NBA, while noting that it was a moral issue, however, maintained that “there is no doubt on the fact that it is a bad signal to the fight against corruption in this country.”
According to NBA, “legally speaking, section 175 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, gives President Jonathan the power in consultation with the Council of Heads of State to grant pardon, just the same way section 212 of the Constitution also gives State Governors in consultation with the State Council on Prerogative of mercy to pardon convicted criminals.
“Having been with the Rivers State government for over 10 years, I understand how that body works. Therefore, unless you know what the Council of State considered before they took the decision, you cannot say much on it.
“But very clearly, the signal is bad, though if you ask me as a lawyer, I will tell you that it is a constitutional privilege of the President. As per whether he exercised the powers rightly or wrongly is a legal issue.
“All over the world, it has never been a popular action. Though the constitution gave the President the powers, it should however be exercised feeling the pulse of the public and looking at the bigger picture.
“Indeed it is a moral issue and I think Nigerians have spoken and I believe they have spoken very loudly,” Wali, SAN, added.