The dust over the presidential pardon granted some Nigerians, particularly former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, is not about to settle.
More Nigerians and the international community, including the United States (US) and Transparency International (TI), a global anti-corruption organisation, have queried the action. Indeed, the United States expressed “deep” disappointment while TI urged President Goodluck Jonathan to rescind the pardon for Alamieyeseigha, who was convicted of money laundering.
In just two, but weighty sentences, the US, through its embassy in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, thumbed down the decision to grant a state pardon to Alamieyeseigha.
Using its Twitter account (under the US Mission in Nigeria mast), the US government twitted: “We are deeply disappointed. We see this as a setback in the fight against corruption.”
The tweet, which was a response to other twitter messages asking for a US’ reaction to Alamieyeseigha’s pardon, as well as further action from America, is already generating considerable heat in and around Nigeria, with international news organs, such as Fox News, already feasting on it.
Other following tweets, as can be seen in the US Mission tweeter page (#USG and #Nigeria), also spoke of possible sanctions.
Officials of the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the US embassy Friday, which directed HotNaijaNews.com to its Tweeter account, said they were not authorised for now to give any further details.
But the federal government yesterday summoned the Deputy US Embassy Chief of Mission, to protest a statement credited to the spokeswoman of the Embassy, Deb MacLean, on the Embassy’s Twitter account.
The Ministry expressed the hope that “the Embassy of the United States of America would henceforth desist from making unwarranted comments on Nigeria’s internal affairs, which are capable of undermining the friendly relations that exist between both countries.”
According to a late night statement from the ministry, Nigeria deplores the use of the words “deeply disappointed” over the pardon and “a setback in the fight against corruption” in Nigeria.
In the protest conveyed via a diplomatic note, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the comment from the US Embassy in Abuja, which it described as undue interference and meddlesomeness in the internal affairs of Nigeria.
It pointed out that this was not the first time a government in Nigeria or elsewhere would grant state pardon to individuals who have committed one crime or the other.
The ministry further stressed that the pardon granted is entirely consistent with the provisions of the Nigerian constitution.