The decision of Nigeria's Council of States, led by President Goodluck Jonathan, to pardon the former Bayelsa state Gov. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha is a slap in the face of all Nigerians.
Alamieyeseigha is a man, who just five years ago, embezzled billions of naira in state funds, pleaded guilty and was duly convicted of corruption and money laundering. Let us remember that he is an international fugitive, infamously dubbed "Nigeria's Runaway Governor" by the BBC, who is still wanted in the UK for jumping bail after the London Metropolitan Police found about £1m million in cash in his London home. By his actions and quoting Presidential spokesperson (Reuben Abati) back in November 2005*, “Alamieyeseigha, has shown himself to be a dishonourable fellow, unfit to rule, unfit to sit among men and women of honour and integrity”
This presidential pardon has grave implications for the Nigerian government's reputation at home and in the international community; it takes Nigeria back several steps in its fight against corruption and in cleaning up its image abroad. Most importantly, it further undermines the country's already weak and battered criminal justice system and sends worrying signals to the country's teeming youthful population that crime in high places pays.
If the decision to pardon Alamieyeseigha stands, then President Jonathan has lost the moral authority to talk about fighting corruption and he might as well release all jailed armed robbers and open the treasury for open looting.