The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, on Monday added to his voice to the criticisms of the recent state pardons granted by President Goodluck Jonathan by asking “state actors” to be careful in granting pardon to corrupt officials and other criminals.
He said, “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.”
He made this statement while speaking at a Two-day National Conference on Corruption and National Security in Nigeria, organised by the Institute for Anti-Corruption Studies, University of Abuja.
The former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha who was convicted of corruption, a former Managing Director of the defunct Bank of the North, Alhaji Mustapha Bulama who was also convicted of embezzlement and four others were granted state pardon by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Alamieyeseigha pardon had generated controversy with many arguing that it had made a mockery of the country’s anti-corruption war.
Tambuwal said at the event, “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.”
Also speaking at the same event, former Chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, 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.
Meanwhile, the Head of delegation of the European Union, David MacRae, had on the same day also appealed to the government to gauge the perception of the international community on the pardon granted Alamieyeseigha.
MacRae, after the opening of the 9th Annual Coordination Meeting between ECOWAS and its development partners, 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.”