News / Africa

Diaspora Group Criticizes Nigerian President’s Pardons

Nigerian incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan cast his ballot in Otuoke, Nigeria, April 16, 2011. Nigerian incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan cast his ballot in Otuoke, Nigeria, April 16, 2011.
Nigerian incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan cast his ballot in Otuoke, Nigeria, April 16, 2011.
Nigerian incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan cast his ballot in Otuoke, Nigeria, April 16, 2011.
James Butty
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s pardons last week of four individuals, including former Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, continue to stir negative reaction.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland described the pardons as a setback in the fight against corruption.  

The Council of Ogoni Professionals International, a Nigerian diaspora group in the United States, also disagreed with the pardons.  

Council member Anslem John-Miller said, instead of pardoning corrupt officials and giving amnesty to militants, Jonathan should have called for a judicial review of the trial and conviction of environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa. 

Saro-Wiwa and his Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) campaigned for greater control over oil and gas resources on Ogoni land and against environmental devastation.

Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis were executed in 1995.  John-Miller said he contributed to the restoration of democracy in Nigeria.

"It’s not that we are totally against individuals being pardoned by the federal government, but we feel that individuals who have been convicted of a certain crime, particularly corruption, should have been made to face the consequences of their actions so as to serve as a deterrence to others," he said.

John-Miller said, by pardoning people like Alamieyeseigha, the federal government is leaving an impression that it is not serious about the country’s ongoing fight against corruption.

Butty interview with John-Miller
Butty interview with John-Milleri
|| 0:00:00

Doyin Okupe, Jonathan’s senior special assistant on public affairs was quoted as saying that Alamieyeseigha had been adequately punished for his action, and that he had been playing a quiet role in helping to stabilize the volatile Niger Delta region.

"You don’t just jump up to pardon people.  There should have been a judicial panel to review the charges against the individual and then, on the basis of the recommendation of the judicial panel, the charges can then be dismissed or those individuals can be pardoned," John-Miller said.

He said Jonathan should have called for a judicial review of the case of Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogonis.

“This was a man [Saro-Wiwa] and other Ogonis who were killed unjustly by the Abacha military regime.  In fact, the issue of the Niger Delta is where it is today because of the effort of Ken Saro-Wiwa.  And it is an indisputable fact, and undeniable fact, that Ken Saro-Wiwa remains a prisoner of conscience until the day he died.  Why is it that the Jonathan Administration has refused to do anything about the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa," John-Miller said.

He said his group is not calling for Jonathan to pardon Saro-Wiwa and the eighth other Ogonis because they believe Saro-Wiwa and the others were unjustly convicted and hanged.

"We cannot say he should be pardoned, and we not in the position to beg the Jonathan administration to do that because the Jonathan administration is there today because Ken Saro-Wiwa contributed immensely to the restoration of democracy in Nigeria, and the Ogoni have not benefited anything from the present administration, and it is high time that the government takes proactive steps to address the Ogoni Bill of Rights," he said.

The Ogoni Bill of Rights was presented to the Nigerian government in 1990.  It called for political autonomy to participate in the affairs of the Republic as a distinct and separate unit, provided that this autonomy guarantees political control of Ogoni affairs by Ogoni people; the right to control and use a fair proportion of Ogoni economic resources for Ogoni development; and, the right to protect the Ogoni environment and ecology from further degradation.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: abiamone from: London
March 18, 2013 7:08 AM
State or Presidential pardon is Jonathan's prerogative. But given that Nigeria's number one enemy today is corruption, it is wrong to pardon anybody whose crime is corruption. Diepreiye Alamieyeseigha jumped bail in London. His crime bordered on corruption and money laundering. It is foolhardy to grant him pardon now when he has not atoned for his crime. Jonathan might as well have granted amnesty to James Ibori, who is now in a London jail for his own crimes. Only a corrupt president can grant amnesty to corrupt politicians.

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs