Professor Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate, has described the state pardon granted a former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, by President Goodluck Jonathan, as an act of impunity and a symbol of corrupt mentality.
Also,the Nigerian Bar Association, Wednesday described the pardon as a bad signal in the anti-corruption campaign. Alamieyeseigha, who was convicted of corruption charges, was pardoned alongside other ex-convicts, including Shettima Bulama, Lt. General Oladipo Diya, Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, the late Major General Musa Yar’Adua and the late Major-General Abdukareem Adisa.
Soyinka, on Wednesday, spoke on behalf of civil society groups, international community and individuals who had stridently condemned the President’s action. He spoke in Lagos during a programme ushering in the Lagos Black Heritage Festival.
Referring to a statement made by the Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Media, Dr. Reuben Abati, who had, on a TV programme, described those who are criticising Jonathan over the matter as suffering from “sophisticated ignorance”, Soyinka said he did not mind being called such a name for bearing his mind on the state pardon.
“On the state pardon granted the former governor, I want to join the bandwagon of the ignorant persons. I am happy to be counted among them. For me, this kind of impunity is not unconnected to the controversy, which has been surrounding the N4bn allocation being sought by the First Lady Mission. It is part of the same corrupt mentality,” he said.
The Nobel Laureate added that it was also disappointing that some ministers had given contradictory interpretations to the object of the pardon. He said it was not right for Jonathan to lump Alamieyeseigha’s case with those of the other people granted pardon alongside him.
In his view, the cases of other ex-convicts were largely political, as evident in the antics of the late Sanni Abacha junta that implicated them in a controversial coup. The Nobel laureate said, “What is going on right now gives the picture of a government that is floundering and justifying the unjustifiable. It amounts to encouragement of corruption. The felon is wanted by the United States Government. We have a case of an officer of the law – a governor – who went to another country and broke the law of the nation. He jumped bail.