A coalition of youth-led civil society group Enough is Enough Nigeria, has started gathering signatures on its petition to the United States, British, Canadian, German, Emirati embassies and South African High Commission in Nigeria, asking them to deny visas to those convicted of looting public funds.
The petition, entitled, “US, British, Canadian, German, South African and Emirati embassies in Nigeria: Deny visas to those convicted of looting public funds,” was uploaded on www.change.org on Wednesday.
It targets 50, 000 signatures but had attracted over 600 on Friday.
In the petition, the group said, “Nigeria’s fight against corruption has attracted financial, technical and moral support from various governments and donor agencies. There must be a strong response to these pardons that show commitment to the fight against corruption and support for the Nigerian people who are opposed to the pardons.”
The group further expressed the displeasure of most Nigerians over the state pardon granted eight Nigerians, including ex-Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
The petition reads in parts, “Of the eight pardons granted, the most talked about is that of ex-governor Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State, who jumped bail in the UK in 2005 after he was arraigned for money laundering charges but was later tried and convicted in Nigeria by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Alamieyeseigha is still wanted abroad. The second most talked about pardon, is that of Major Bello Magaji, who was convicted in 1996 of sexually assaulting little children. The third controversial pardon is that given to Mustapha Bulama, former Managing Director of the Bank of the North, who converted customers’ deposits into personal funds, crashing what was once Nigeria’s biggest regional bank.
“For looting state funds and customer deposits and abusing children, these three gentlemen have been granted state pardons, effectively sending a strong message of state-sanctioned abuse of power.
“We will like the US, British, Canadian, German, South African & Emirati governments who in different capacities support Nigeria’s fight against corruption and are popular destinations for Nigerians, to desist from granting visas to any persons, and members of their families, convicted of stealing public funds or acts that violate fundamental human rights.”
The group added that any sanction against current government officials to send a strong message of disproval of state-sanctioned looting of funds, would also be welcome.
Meanwhile, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria has said the pardon was in order as far as the President acted within the confines of the constitution.
Chairman of PFN in Cross River State, Emmah Isong, in an interaction with reporters in Calabar said, “If we give Mr. President the power to pardon anybody he so wishes, I am wondering why we are questioning him. It is like serving me a plate of food on my birthday and telling me to eat the meat and leave the fish. You cannot give me the yam and the knife and tell me not to cut and serve myself.
“Let us say we are all wrong to give him that power. But if the power was given to him according to the constitution, then why are we protesting over what we gave him?”