Former President, Goodluck Jonathan’s pardon of late ex-Bayelsa Governor, DSP Alamieyeseigha made the international community to turn against him during the 2015 Presidential election.
This claim was disclosed by the spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bolaji Abdullahi, in his upcoming book, , ‘On a Platter of Gold: How Jonathan Won and Lost Nigeria.’
Alamieyeseigha, Governor of Bayelsa state from 1999-2005, was arrested in London in 2005, over claims of money laundering.
It was then alleged that about £1 million cash found in his London home, and later another £1.8 million in cash and bank accounts.
The former governor was subsequently convicted and jailed on corruption charges in 2007.
However, the then administration of Jonathan granted him presidential pardon in March 2013.
In his book, Abdullahi noted that the amnesty pardon was the turning point for the international community, adding that it was Jonathan’s original idea to pardon his former boss.
He wrote: “Of all the issues, the one that perhaps rankled the Americans more than any other was the March 2013 pardon for Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. The former Governor of Bayelsa State had, in July 2007, pleaded guilty to charges of corruption and money laundering brought against him by the EFCC; and was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison. However, because he had already spent two years in custody, he was deemed to have served his time and was allowed to go,” he wrote.
Abdullahi wrote: “While Jonathan is often credited or skewered for his former boss’ rehabilitation, the move was actually initiated by late President Yar’Adua who knew Alamieyeseigha from their time as governors and who also believed that the former governor’s release would help the amnesty deal that he was putting together in the Niger Delta. Despite his fall from grace, the former Bayelsa governor remained hugely popular with the militants.
“Shortly after becoming president, therefore, Yar’Adua sent word to his former colleague through Vice President Jonathan that he was worried about Alamieyeseigha’s state of health and would not like him to die in prison. The president offered a lifeline – if Alamieyeseigha would agree to plead guilty and forfeit the majority of his assets and monies to the Federal Government. On 25th July, Alamieyeseigha pleaded guilty before a Federal High Court Judge on the proposed terms; and was released from Ikoyi Prisons the following day.
“Jonathan and a number of other politicians began to push for a presidential pardon for Alamieyeseigha. Yar’Adua was initially receptive to the idea, until he received information that the former Bayelsa governor had teamed up with the president’s political rival, Atiku Abubakar, a behaviour Yar’Adua was disinclined to reward. Fate would however remove Yar’Adua from the equation and bring Jonathan in as president. From then on, Alamieyeseigha’s pardon became only a matter of time. Jonathan was hugely popular at home and abroad before the 2011 election. He was therefore, advised not to grant the pardon, so as not to damage his brand – especially in the eyes of the international community which regarded him as somewhat different from the traditional pack of Nigerian politicians. But the time would come.
“Jonathan did not have any real constituency or political structure of his own in Bayelsa. And so, with his eyes on the 2015 election, granting the pardon to a politician who remained very popular in the state would be a masterstroke, whether this was the intention or not. It would also be a good way to generate real support for himself in Bayelsa, where he faced serious political challenge from his successor, Timipre Sylva. When Jonathan raised the matter at the National Council of State, there was not a single dissenting voice. Even if there was, it was not likely to matter under the circumstance.
“One South-South governor who spoke strongly in support of the proposal argued that Alamieyeseigha had, more than anything else, been a victim of political persecution by former President Obasanjo. The announcement of the pardon was met with wide condemnation, with former Chairman of EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, declaring it as the ‘final nail’ in the coffin of the fight against corruption under Jonathan. The president responded with an uncharacteristic bullheadedness, saying he owed no one any apology for his action. The Americans condemned the pardon and even threatened to cut aid to Nigeria. Rather than punish innocent Nigerians by cutting aid, perhaps America decided to bide its time – until the opportunity presented itself to hit Jonathan where it hurt.”