Writer'sPoint

Unpardonable Unpresidential Pardon

The Nigerian presidency and the members of the National Assembly may have unwittingly engaged in a mutually and morally destructive race of their lives and have in the last few weeks and months exhibited obscene behavioural patterns that are not only unconstitutional but also absolutely unpresidential, upardonable and unparliamentary.

Two cases will suffice to show how some current political office holders have disrespected the time tested and time honoured ethical, moral and constitutional codes that ought to guide their public lives whilst they preside over the political affairs of Nigeria in strict compliance to the fifth schedule, part one section 1(a) which states that “a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities”.

Politicians in contemporary Nigeria have however mastered the art and craft of elevating their whims and caprices to official status.

Some Nigerians are also so uninformed that they now pay for newspaper advertisements to congratulate state functionaries for poorly executing some projects with public fund in their jurisdiction as if these finances are private property of these emperor-like public functionaries.

One significant question that comes to mind when reflecting on the emerging absurdities in Nigeria’s political space is the

questionable way that the Federal House of Representatives has so far responded to the grave credibility burden that emerged from the two serious bribery scandals involving the ranking member of the House Mr. Farouk Lawan and the chairman of the House of Committee on capital market  Mr. Herman Hembe.

In the case of Mr. Farouk Lawan accused of demanding and receiving the sum of $620,000 USD from the Lagos  based business mogul Mr. Femi Otedola to give him clean bill of health from the list of indicted subsidy thieves, the House should have suspended him from all its activities without pay pending the outcome of the legal proceedings to be instituted by the office of the Federal Attorney General, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or an independent prosecutor who ought to be given fiat by the Federal Attorney General since the government and EFCC have shown remarkable lack of interest and enthusiasm to speedily bring him (Farouk Lawan) and all his alleged accomplices to trial in the competent court of law. He has being belatedly and reluctantly charged to court and is on bail after spending just some few days in Kuje prison.

But the Federal House of Representatives only withdrew his appointment as chairman of the discredited fuel subsidy probe panel but nevertheless he continued to enjoy all privileges and payments from the public treasury as if what he was said to have committed is not worrying enough to warrant strong administrative reprimand.

The leadership of the House went a step further in the macabre dance of shame in the allegation of bribery made against Mr. Herman Hembe, the discredited chairman of the House Committee on capital market who was alleged to have demanded bribe of N44 million from the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission Miss. Arunmah Oteh.

Mr.Hembe, the Benue born lawyer and  his discredited committee members were charged with the onerous constitutional duty of probing the state of near-collapse of the Nigerian capital market but rather than dispassionately carry out this important assignment the members  were alleged to have engaged in an over drive to collect bribe so as to clear the hierarchy of the stock Exchange Commission from  any indictment.

How did the House leadership respond to this scandal of very disturbing scope? It proceeded on a journey of vicious vendetta against the institution of the Nigerian stock exchange commission by failing to appropriate any fund for the running of this important  office in the 2013 budget year and also demanded that the lady br sacked for daring to raise the allegations that have now brought serious credibility crisis to the parliament. This is shameful and reprehensible and must be overturned.

The House of Representatives did not stop this naked dance of shame but proceeded to try passing a law that will grant them administrative immunity similar to the criminal provision in section 308(1) smuggled into the constitution by the thieving military dictators before they handed over power and this faulty 1999 constitution to the civilians.

The House of Representatives is being reactionary and anti-progressives if the members continue to push through this unconstitutional and immoral law to grant them immunity from prosecution for their office duties including of course, immunity  from prosecution for such crimes as egregious as bribe taking and

other economic crimes which have become synonymous with the so-called oversight functions of these parliamentarians.

If the House of Representatives think they are more creative in the invention of dubious laws and policies, they were wrong because President Jonathan in the last two weeks implemented ridiculous decisions that have attracted the harshest criticism from even the government of the United States of America.

President Jonathan met with few members of the National Council of States whereby they advised him to extend state presidential pardon to the disgraced former governor of Bayelsa state (Jonathan’s boss) who was removed from office as governor following series of allegations of theft of state fund. His removal paved the way for his then deputy  Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to assume office as governor of Bayelsa few months before he was again chosen to run with the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua as vice president in the 2007 presidential election.

Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyesegha, a retired Naval officer was arrested by the metropolitan police in the United Kingdom and several financial assets were recovered from him even as he jumped bail and returned to Nigeria.

The United States also confiscated several choice property from this same man allegedly bought with stolen fund of Bayelsa state.

This is the man that Jonathan has granted pardon from his conviction which in any case he served out the prison term and was released long before this controversial pardon. President Jonathan retinue of spokespersons have regaled Nigerians with the half baked claim that Alameseigha’s pardon was exercised in accordance with section 175(1) of the constitution.

But section 15(5) of the constitution clearly provides that “the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power”.

What this unpardonable unpresidential pardon has done is to tell Nigerians that corruption pays provided that your political son is in a good position to fall back on some legal framework no matter how nebulous and weak to grant you state pardon.

By the nature and scope of his presidential oath of office, Jonathan ought not to allow his personal interest to influence his official conduct and decisions. There is no national interest to be protected in this state pardon extended to a convicted ex-governor who serially abused his power and grossly underdeveloped his state of Bayelsa.

Only last weekend President Jonathan gathered some contractors who donated a whooping N6 Billion to his village church project even when doing such fundamentally sends the signal that Nigeria has become a kingdom of corruption and economic crimes. In Northern Nigeria, state governments spend billions of tax payers money to fund the building of Islamic religious institutions and sponsorship of pilgrims. In Kano state, the governor recently blew hundreds of millions of naira to marry away divorcees to interested suitors. Governance has become private affairs. Sad.

Unfortunately, Nigerians are too busy attending religious functions that they have become too docile and weak to challenge these misbehaviours of the political elites.

 

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO

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