Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), has described comments attributed to a former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, as lies against the dead.
Alamieyeseigha had told London-based NewsAfrica magazine in April that the state pardon recently granted him by President Goodluck Jonathan was part of the plea bargain between him and the Federal Government under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
He was quoted as saying, “My own part of the plea bargain was to convince the militants to accept the FG’s amnesty and I have not stopped ever since. The country owes the peace in the Niger Delta partly to my efforts. Till today, every day, I get one report or the other and I intervene because they all see me as their father, leader and governor-general.
“This pardon did not start from President Goodluck Jonathan. It was part of the agreement with the Yar’Adua government because he knew the story from the beginning. He was just carrying out part of an existing agreement.”
But in an interview, Jacobs said Alamieyeseigha could claim that the late President had earlier slated him for a state pardon because he knew that the dead have no right of reply.
“It is easy to lie on the dead. Someone who is dead has no right of reply. What I know is that there was no such provision for Alamieyeseigha in our records.
“He applied for plea bargaining, which meant that he accepted that he was guilty as charged and he agreed to serve a lesser punishment from what he actually deserved. It is a way of escape as practised all over the world.
“But that is how much a plea bargain affords under the law. Nobody envisaged pardon for corruption charges. It is not moral.”
Jacobs said that in all the meetings held over the case of corruption levelled against Alamieyeseigha, there was no mention that at any point in the future he could enjoy a state pardon, except if he was referring to a private arrangement with the late President.
On whether this action could set a precedence for other public figures convicted for corruption, he said it would not be in other jurisdictions as it could not be appealed against, to ensure that the person feels a sense of remorse.
He said, “The United States is still holding on to some of his assets which he forfeited based on the judgment against him in Nigeria. They confiscated his assets based on that judgment; so, they must be wondering now that things have gone this way.
“But that is where law and politics clash. However, it is not good for our law.”