Tambuwal warns against misuse of state pardon



Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, on Monday asked “state actors” to be careful in granting pardon to corrupt officials and other criminals.

“A situation whereby you misapply the law even to grant pardon or whatever it is, we need to really look at that. Because if you don’t understand the law you may tend to misapply it,” Tambuwal said.

He spoke at a Two-day National Conference on Corruption and National Security in Nigeria, organised by the Institute for Anti-Corruption Studies, University of Abuja.

President Goodluck Jonathan recently granted ex-governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and others state pardon.

The Alamieyeseigha pardon had generated controversy with many arguing that it had made a nonsense of the country’s anti-corruption war.

The ex-Bayelsa governor, to whom Jonathan was a deputy, was jailed for corruption in 2007after making a plea bargain in a trial conducted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Tambuwal, at the Abuja event onMonday, said, “So there is the need for us at the high places to increase our capacity of understanding our legal system, and the laws that relate to issues of security and fight against corruption for us to apply them in the best interest of the citizenry.

“It is a common knowledge that corruption is all over the place, ranging from institutions of higher learning to virtually all sectors of our national life; so there is a need for us to re-orientate ourselves and face a direction so that we can have a better society.

“For me, as I said, we need to embark on serious re-orientation to address the challenges and there is a need for a diagnosis to properly fund the security agencies for them to have proper training to be able to face terrorism which is a new phenomenon here. And also for the anti-corruption agencies not only to be independent on paper but also to have adequate funding and the requisite financial muscle to face the uphill task of the fight against corruption.”

He asked for adequate funding for the nation’s anti-corruption agencies, saying, “I’m sure that you will find that our anti-corruption agencies are seriously and grossly underfunded and without adequate funding there is no way they can fight corruption.

“We are in most cases being accused of padding the budget as if it is not our constitutional responsibility to actually do that. So I’m using this platform to call on you to understand the role of the legislators in budgetary process.

“We are not being meddlesome when we say certain provisions being proposed by the executive should be enhanced for that agency of government to function at optimal level. “And that is part of what the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria are facing today. As I said, go back to the budget and check the funding pattern of the anti-corruption agencies and you will definitely find out that the funding provision is quite inadequate.”

Tambuwal’s caution came on the day the Head of delegation of the European Union, David MacRae, also appealed to the government to gauge the perception of the international community on the pardon granted Alamieyeseigha.

MacRae spoke to The PUNCH after the opening of the 9th Annual Coordination Meeting between ECOWAS and its development partners.

While saying it was not in his place to comment on the politics of Nigeria, he said, “I would say with the nature of this country, you will have to consider what possible effect it (the Alamieyeseigha pardon) would have. I think perception comes first.”

A former Chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, at the event where Tambuwal spoke, said corruption was behind the criminal tendencies in the country.

“We don’t need to talk much about corruption as you all know it. I know the root cause of all these, because I happen to be a lawyer, a police prosecutor, and have participated actively in the justice sector of Nigeria so I know how it started, how it happened and I know the whole process of the chain. It all started when we decided not to follow the rule of law,” he said.

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