The pardon granted a former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, by the Federal Government may deepen the crisis between President Goodluck Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Investigations by punch correspondents indicated that the former President, having known the agenda of the last meeting of the National Council of State, where the pardon was granted, decided to be absent from it.
Apart from him, other heads of state who stayed away from the meeting were Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.).
It was during the regime of Obasanjo that the former governor was impeached, arrested, prosecuted and convicted for corruption.
President Jonathan, who was deputy to Alamiesyeseigha, became the governor when his boss was removed from office.
The conviction of the former governor was one of the major achievements of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which was established by the regime of former President Obasanjo.
The commission was then headed by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
Before taking this controversial decision, the regime of President Jonathan had been accused of not doing enough to fight corruption.
Obasanjo is among those who have criticised the regime in this regard.
He had also said President Jonathan’s regime was not doing enough to combat insecurity in the country.
Their face-off was said to have been responsible for the sack of Obasanjo’s loyalists as officials of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The party, mandated the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party, Chief Tony Anenih, to visit Obasanjo and reconcile him with the party.
But with the pardon granted the former governor, Presidency sources said the reconciliation would be difficult to achieve between the President and Obasanjo.
Besides, the source, who pleaded anonymity, said the President’s action might also help the opposition to consolidate on their war against the ruling party.
However, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, refuted this.
He said the President was merely exercising his constitutional powers, adding that the former President also granted amnesty to the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Salisu Buhari, who was then convicted for perjury.
In an interview with one of our correspondents, Gulak said Jonathan granted the former governor the pardon in exercise of his powers under the constitution and in due consultation with the National Council of State.
He wondered how the President’s constitutional action could cause a rift between him and anybody.
Gulak said those who had been criticising the President’s decision were only being mischievous.
He said, “I don’t know why people are so particular about Alamieyeseigha. This man has served his term and is currently contributing to ending militancy in the Niger Delta.
“Why are they not talking about (Gen. Oladipo) Diya? Why are they not talking about Bulama? Is Alamieyeseigha not a Nigerian?
“Is it because he is from Bayelsa, the same state with the President? President Jonathan does not consider such a myopic factor when taking decisions. He has constitutional power to grant pardon and he has exercised that power.
“People should stop being mischievous on the matter. Obasanjo too gave presidential pardons during his time. A case in point here is that of Salisu Buhari.”
Meanwhile, The Ijaw Republican Assembly has termed as childish the reports that the presidential pardon granted Alamieyeseigha, was connected with the President’s ambition to run for a second term in 2015.
The group said Jonathan needed not the support of Alamieyeseigha to get the support of the Niger Delta for a second term.
The spokesperson for the Ijaw Republican Assembly, Annkio Briggs, told SUNDAY PUNCH that it was only people that were politically and economically greedy in the region that would not support Jonathan.
“It was not Jonathan’s decision as a person, it was the unanimous decision of all the members of the Council of State. To narrow it down to Jonathan’s interest in 2015 is mischievous,” he said.