Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan exercised his constitutional power on Tuesday to pardon about twelve high profile felons to include his past boss Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governor in Bayelsa State between 2000 and 2005. During that time Jonathan served as Alamieyeseigha’s deputy governor. The Ex-Governor was convicted in 2007 of stealing public funds and money laundering.
According to the Premium Times, Jonathan made his plans known on the agenda of the Council of States meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. The appearance of Alamieyeseigha’s name caused "special, if even muted, attention to the direction of the president's mind regarding the value of this candidate."
The Constitution requires the president to seek advisory support from the council but their counsel does not bind him (Section 175 of the 1999 Constitution).
There were several absences during the meeting, which may have been a result of the president’s choice of pardons. "These people simply stayed away in disgust, apparently because they didn't want this matter to blemish their records" one of the sources said.
The news of the president’s proposal created strong reactions throughout the nation after the Council of State meeting ended. There is concern about his intentions and reasons for the pardon, especially in a country where anti-corruption campaigners are working tirelessly to minimize corruption.
At this time it is still unknown for sure if the President made the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy (PACPM) aware of the proposal beforehand, which he is obligated to do by law. However, by law the president has the legal right to pardon anyone he choses, so there isn’t much that can be done to overturn his decisions on pardons.