The presidency has yet again defended its action granting state pardon to the former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, stating that he deserved it because he worked to restore peace in the Niger Delta region. The Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Inter-Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi, who joined other presidential aides to defended Jonathan’s gesture towards his former principal, disclosed this at the launch of FEWZ magazine yesterday in Abuja.
The president was deputy to Alamieyeseigha from 1999 to 2005 when he was impeached and was subsequently put on trial and jailed for money laundering. Senator Obi said the former governor should be forgiven because he had paid for “his sins” by his contribution to peace in the Niger Delta. Citing the Alamieyeseigha’s contribution as an example, he urged northern leaders to replicate the same gesture in their region, wreaked by terrorism, to end the state of insecurity foisted on the people.
He said: “This man (Alamieyeseigha) had sinned and has been punished. Moreover, he has since then helped to bring peace in Nigeria, which is one of the basic reasons he was pardoned. “I will also want to see people who will come out from the North no matter what, and help bring peace in the northern region. Let us have peace, let us see who is who from the region please.
“Boko Haram has done so much damage to the economy of the North that it would need to be rebuilt wholly. From this standpoint of insecurity, it will be difficult to ensure democratic stability. So, at the end of the day, what we are saying is that we need a lot of tranquility across the length and breadth of this country. We therefore need those who can come out to ensure peace reigns.”
Obi also discredited the suspicion that the decision to pardon the former governor was taken by Jonathan alone. He explained that such decisions are collectively taken by the Council of State. He wondered why Alamieyeseigha should be singled out for criticism when he was not the only one granted pardon.
“The issue of pardon is a collective decision of the Council of State. The Council of State is not only President Jonathan, it comprises former heads of state, chief justices of the federation and governors.
“So I think the pardon was not done without the contribution of the members of the council. It is always good for people to understand the crux of the matter. It is also not about the issue of alamieyeseigha as he is not the only one pardoned,” he added.