16 May 2013, by Adetokunbo Mumuni.
World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have dragged the Federal Government to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) expressing “serious concerns about the state pardon granted to the former Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha by President Goodluck Jonathan.”
Alamieyeseigha was detained in London on charges of money laundering while he was governor in September 2005. He escaped from the UK in December 2005. He pleaded guilty in a Nigerian court to a six-count charge in July 2007 and was sentenced to two years in prison. He was released after the trial having already served two years in prison since his arrest. The Nigerian government pardoned Alamieyeseigha in March this year.
The groups consider the pardon to be entirely inconsistent with the country’s international human rights and anti-corruption commitments as well as the promises made by the government of Nigeria to the United Nations during its Universal Periodic Review in 2009.
The complaint was submitted to the UN as part of an update to the submission made by the groups to the UPR this month.
The 2009 UPR asked the government of Nigeria to pursue its “fight” against corruption so that “all its citizens” can enjoy peace, health and security. The government of Nigeria accepted all the recommendations.
WEA and SERAP said that “despite these commitments to the international community, the government of Nigeria has not taken seriously its expressed commitment to combat corruption.”
By granting pardon for Alamieyeseigha the government has also seriously undermined the integrity and efficacy of the fight against corruption, eroded the credibility of public institutions (in particular anti-corruption institutions and agencies), undermined the deterrent effects of punishment for corruption, and engendered public cynicism.
The granting of pardon will also lead to a vicious cycle of corruption and impunity of perpetrators and this can only continue to rob the government of its capacity to deliver services to the poor, and ensure that corrupt public officials keep the proceeds of their misconduct. This is double jeopardy for the victims of corruption in the country.
This shows the government’s lack of political will to genuinely combat high level official corruption in Nigeria and sends a wrong message that certain individuals who are close to the government will enjoy impunity for their misconduct and will be above the law.
Because corruption has been an intrinsic part of the way successive governments have operated, it will be impossible for the country to achieve development, sustainability and end poverty and discrimination if corruption persists.
SERAP and the WEA are concerned that the granting of the pardon amounts to a fundamental breach of the constitution of Nigeria, which requires the president to eradicate all corrupt practices and abuse of power. The groups hope to see the Universal Periodic Review of Nigeria reflect the concerns outlined in their submission (and this update), and include in its outcome document the following recommendations addressed to the government of Nigeria:
- Rescind without further delay the alleged state pardon granted to former Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha
- Repatriate and recover the stolen public funds by Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
- Ensure full transparency and accountability in government institutions
- Improve financial oversight of government’s expenditure
- Build judicial capacity to enhance the prosecution of corrupt public officials
About World Evangelical Alliance
WEA is a network of churches in 129 nations that have each formed an evangelical alliance and over 100 international organisations joining together to give a world-wide identity, voice, and platform to more than 600 million evangelical Christians.
About Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project
SERAP is a Nigerian based human rights and anti-corruption NGO.
- Nigeria’s National Report submitted to the Working Group on the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (February 2009).