Practice Of Granting Amnesty To Offenders By State Chief Judges Is Unconstitutional, Says SAN

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Sebastine Hon, has said that the practice of granting pardon or amnesty to offenders by state Chief Judges is unconstitutional.

According to him, the only authorities imbued with constitutional powers of pardon or amnesty are the president, after consultation with the Council of State (under section 175), or the governor of a state, acting in consultation with an advisory council of the state on prerogative of mercy, established by a law of such the state.

In a statement he issued yesterday, Hon said: “The practice of chief judges, particularly of the states, granting pardon or amnesty to offenders has been going on for quite some time now; but I make bold to say that such practice is clearly unconstitutional.

“Section 35(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended has stipulated that anybody accused of an offence shall be arraigned in court within a reasonable time and that it is only that court that could make an order remanding such person in prison ordering his release from custody – either conditionally or unconditionally. 

“Clearly, therefore, there is no pre-conviction authorisation for pardon or release from custody by any chief judge, acting in his administrative capacity.”

“In respect of state chief judges, section 270(2)(a) of the constitution has merely established the office of a state chief judge with no specific functions assigned thereto. This then means such chief judges perform functions assigned to them by their respective state high court laws and high court rules.”

Explaining further, he said even if such state laws granted powers of pardon to the state chief judges, “such laws become, by the fiat of the inconsistency rule, unconstitutional, by virtue of section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution.

Hon stated that since such laws, being in conflict with sections 35(4), 175 and 212, respectively, of the 1999 Constitution, were null and void to the extent of their inconsistency, under and by virtue of section 1(3) of the constitution. 

Citing the Supreme Court’s decision of Attorney-General of Abia State vs. Attorney-General of the Federation (2002) 6 NWLR (Pt. 763) 264 at 369, he argued that such state laws were  also unconstitutional under the doctrine of covering the field – since the 1999 constitution had already covered the field on state pardon.

He said: “I wish to also observe that most states have not constituted the advisory council on prerogative of mercy, as enjoined by section 212 of the constitution, thereby leaving a lacuna which the state chief judges, out of good but unconstitutional intentions, from time to time seek to fill.  

“I therefore, counsel state chief judges to halt their routine prison amnesties. Rather, the various state Houses of Assembly should enact legislation establishing the state advisory council on prerogative of mercy, to make the various state governors perform their constitutional functions in this regard. “

ThisDay

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Tambuwal Denies Receiving N1bn To Help Pad Amnesty Budget

Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal has denied news report of receiving some illegal funds to help in the padding of the Amnesty Office budhet.
SaharaReporters had reported that Tambuwal, helped a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chibudom Nwuche, to receive N1bn from the Amnesty Office.
But Tanbuwal, in a statement by his spokesman, Imam Imam described the story, as it relates to Tambuwal, as false, mischievous, and without basis.
“For the records, Tambuwal has never engaged in legislative, political, administrative or business relationship with the persons alleged in the story.”
“Nwuche left the House of Representatives in 2003, the same year Tambuwal was elected into the National Assembly to represent Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency in the House.”
“He was not in the House of Representatives when Nwuche was in the House.”
“The history of the frosty relationship between then Speaker Tambuwal and elements close to former President Goodluck Jonathan (which both Nwuche and Kingsley Kuku were prominent members), is well known to Nigerians.”
“Speaker Tambuwal could not have had dealings with people who considered him antagonistic to the aspiration of their benefactor (Jonathan).”
“There is no iota of truth in the story as it relates to Governor Tambuwal.”
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Dino Asks Buhari To Grant Amnesty/Pardon To Looters

Senator Dino Melaye had called on President Muhammadu Buhari to give presidential pardon and amnesty for treasury looters.

Melaye in statement on Sunday said “Though an unrepentant advocate for integrity and forthrightness especially from public office holders, I however sincerely want to recommend that Mr. President grant Presidential Amnesty/Pardon to all those who looted our treasury provided they return all proceeds of their loot to the government within six (6) months of the declaration of the Amnesty.

“This, I believe will encourage the voluntary return of the the looted funds, empower the government financially to immediately commence the implementation of projects and programmes that will stimulate the economy and raise the peoples’ standard of living, and save the judiciary and other law enforcement agencies the agony of fruitlessly pursuing the looters in and out of the courtrooms.

In the long run, this would be a win-win situation for both the government and people of Nigeria,”he said. “At the expiration of the six months’ ‘Moratorium’, all those who failed to comply would then be made to face the reality of aggressive and expeditious prosecution and eventual jail terms for convicts in accordance with the laws of the land”, he said.

‘His Excellency and Distinguished’ from the names of President, Vice president, Governors and Senators respectively. ”

In this regard, I recommend that henceforth no President, Vice President, Governor, or Deputy Governor should answer the name ‘His Excellency’ until the material condition of ordinary Nigerians has also become ‘Excellent’.

No Senator should continue to answer ‘Distinguished’ until the the masses of the people begin to experience a distinguished existence and no Federal or state Legislator should wear the badge of ‘Honourable Member’ until the ordinary citizen is himself living a life that can be classified Honourable in every material particular.

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Stop Denigrating Buhari, Group Advises Amnesty Int’l

The Buhari Media Support Group has advised the London-based human rights group, Amnesty International, to avoid biased and unfair re­porting on the Nigeri­an government which it said, has shown sin­cere commitment to human rights.

A press statement issued by the head of the BMSG in Abuja, Malam Mohammed Labbo, disagreed with the latest Amnesty International report accuseing the Buhari administration of sup­pressing dissent, op­pression of critics, the arbitrary detention of journalists and crack­down on peaceful pro­tests by the Bring Back Our Girls group.

Malam Labbo said such sweeping allega­tions against the gov­ernment by Amnesty International without compelling evidence of specific cases of journalists that were detained because of their opinions and pro-Biafra members killed by security forces, is unhelpful and unfair.

He also said there was no truth whatso­ever that the BBOG group and Shiite mem­bers are being op­pressed or molested by security forces.

According to Labbo, the Amnesty Interna­tional relied on one-sided stories to judge the government un­fairly, adding that the Buhari administration has never abandoned the efforts to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls.

He said the President had granted audience to the BBOG group a number of times, and also sent representa­tives to address them.

The BMSG spokes­man explained that it is practically impossible for the President to ad­dress the BBOG each time the group liked, regardless of his own tight schedule or con­venience.

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Sidoni Water Owner Secretly Under Investigation, Linked To N1.2bn Amnesty Contract Scam

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Group Laud Buhari over Civillian JTF, wants Amnesty for Boko Haram

By Umar Yusuf Ogbanwo
Group under the aegis of the Northern Inter faith and Religious Organisation for Peace has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the absorption of some members of the Civilian Joint Taskforce known as civilian JTF fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in the north east into the military and Department of State Services (DSS), saying such move is in the interest of peace after the war on terrorism has been won.
Addressing journalists this morning (Sunday), national coordinator of the group, Bishop Musa Fomson said the concern has been how to disarm and demobilised the youths after circumstances compelled them to bear arms because of the terrorists’ insurrection.
According to him, those raising the concern were afraid of what would happen next when the military has completely defeated Boko Haram because the youths could have become a source of problem when they have the skills to fight without being gainfully employed.
He said, “But there is no need for such fear now that some of the former Civilian JTF members are now gainfully employed by being absorbed into the Army. It is something that can be done for the others that are willing to accept formal roles as they can be absorbed in other batches and into other organisations. This will of course ensure that they are not lured into misusing the experience and weapons they acquired in the course of supporting the military to fight terrorists.
“The strategy offers multiple advantages to the country and must be pursued with the necessary commitment. The youths’ knowledge of the locality will also ensure that the mopping up of defeated Boko Haram members that are trying to move into the society is easier and more thorough.
“Again, we commend President Muhammadu Buhari as the Commander-in-Chief for buying into this strategy and we also commend the military high command for recognising and accepting the contribution of the youths towards the defeat of the insurgency. We appeal that this should be a continuous exercise so that the other youths that are part of the a-hoc security body are similarly absorbed.”
He however said the government must however ensure that the screening of those being absorbed is thorough to ensure their psychological stability in view of the mental health issues that could have become widespread both because of the environment these youths have been in and the activities they had been engaged in to survive that environment.
There have been reports that a total of 250 youths that were once part of the vigilante group fighting Boko Haram terrorist better known as Civilian-JTF have been trained and inducted into the Nigerian Army, with another  30 reported to have also been absorbed into the Department of State Services (DSS).
Fomson said, “it is on this ground that we want to thank President Buhari for this foresight. We also acknowledge the contribution of the military for the success they have recorded in turning the support of the local population to the country’s advantage. Had the contributions of the youths’ vigilante group been rebuffed we possibly would not be where we are today. Our hope and belief is that youths in any other part of Nigeria where criminal elements are fomenting would realise that the ultimate winning side is the government side and would thus naturally pitch their tent with our security forces.
“Instead of joining forces with those with evil plots it is far better to support security agencies to fight against them.
The military and security services have indeed by this integration of the former Civilian JTF members solved some problems that concerned Nigerians had earlier flagged.
He further suggested that the authorities strongly consider granting amnesty to members of Boko Haram that are not high up in its command structure as an incentive to make them drop their weapons without further human tolls.
According to him, this should specifically target the non-combatant elements of the terror group and those that were coerced into joining the sect.
He said, “We must however warn that the amnesty being suggested should be aimed at demobilising Boko Haram members and must not be converted into a money dashing jamboree. It must also be monitored in a way that it is possible to keep track of those that sign up for the deal.”
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Niger Delta Avengers And Politics of Amnesty, By Adedayo Osho

Whether or not a militant group called “Lagoon Avengers” might spring anytime soon owing to discovery of oil in Lagos remain debatable. Nothing political scientists predict about political dynamics goes unhappen, especially in third world societies. Dead like Claude Ake, semi-retired like Attahiru Jega or alive like Adebayo Adekanye, those who set precedence for comparative political analysis, contemporary African political theories and the study of African politics and political processes in Nigerian universities would never watch with glee the enormous social, economic and political malaise which currently bedevil the country.

Since we’d forecasted the likely resurgence of one-time Amnesty beneficiary militants in the obvious event their Ijaw hero, Ebele Jonathan got ousted via 2015 presidential election, one would expect newly power grabber to have been prepared in order to address the region’s plight headlong, extend hands of love {provision of sustainable social amenities} to his kinsmen and revisit that elite-centred amnesty programme. However commendable, the Ogoni UNEP policy recently considered {or processed} for implementation by the Buhari presidency is insufficient to justify non-avoidable of violence in Nigeria. In fact, my unscientific research reveal it only represented around 15% of the problems facing treasure base of the nation: Niger Delta. What are the ingredients and raison d’etre behind latest blowing up of oil installations by the Avengers?

Let me answer that question from the basics, this time in a counter-question mode: What is the barometer for measuring if truly militants in the coastal zone surrendered {all} their arms during disarmament at the height of Amnesty flag-off? Has there been any meaningful improvement {albeit hosting mainstay of the nation’s economy} in the lives of coastal dwellers since flag 1960? What is unemployment rate in the region? Has royalty overtime been paid {without debt} up-to-date to its traditional rulers? Have we any record of ‘consistent’ familiarity visit by the Federal Government to a region which contribute{d} largely to our pride and existential prestige as a nation? Leave NDDC out of respondents as it remain an  establishment, a proxy institution and machinery for siphoning funds, similarly to NNPC, the latter an agency long due for extinction, quote me! Those intelligent graduates will stop sabotage until these thought-provoking questions are honestly answered.

In spite of claiming to be politically neutral and not-sponsored, this analyst stand on the fulcrum of well-investigated report with ‘first hand’ interrogation, stand to be challenged by private individuals or the region locale, if any, that the so-called Avengers are predominantly PDP elements. As enunciated, the primary intent, lietmotif and aim of Avengers’ struggle is borne out of the following, albeit unverified and although partly justified, with all allegation directed at Federal government:

– Reduction of Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC budget from 250 billion naira during the last appropriation year {2015} to a paltry 41 billion naira in 2016

– Downward movement of Amnesty budget from 63 billion naira to 20 billion naira

– Removal of 10% benefits to oil host communities from Petroleum Industry Bill PIB

– Reduction of Niger Delta Ministry, simply put, Ministry of Niger Delta’s budget from 86 billion naira to less than 10 billion naira, and finally,

– Cancellation of all contracts meant for politicians from the region.

You may presume with last plight that, the once vigorous and resilient warlord, Government Tompolo fuels the ember of hostility in the region. Another way for rethinking hostility in the region, politically, is considering a rivalry or supremacy battle between Tompolo, an ex-militant and Ayiri Emami, the Warri young billionaire. Emami is currently APC blueblood. Tompolo, of PDP and a former contractor to Federal Government on security of waterways in the last democratic dispensation has been stripped of all existing contracts. Emami was a former Director of Delta Waterways during the reign of former ‘The Big Heart’ governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan before things fell apart, leading to the entertainment promoter’s decamp to Broom party. May I at this junction inform you this catastrophe is purely politically induced. It is imperative to remind the last plight is intertwined with the rest and engineered the cause and course of their struggle. Elite theory may best suspect class antagony, yet, it is sure an evaluator for political scientists to deduce roots of specific social dissonance among people who are intrinsically linked culturally.

Following these narratives, negotiations must as a matter of urgency be initiated by relevant government agencies. My religious followership of its activities reveal the Avengers are not cowards. Another way of presenting them, without over-hype is that they are noble exemplars of valour. It strike without shifting date as scheduled. In intent and purpose, by design and execution, it resembled MK, a militant and metamorphosed version of ANC during Apartheid regime in the heydays of independence agitation by native South Africans led by Nelson Mandela. Let me inform you the Avengers are currently consulting a Russian firm for arms importation. However small in number, ethnically, the Biafran agitators applaud their moves and could likely pledge allegiance to them, same way Boko Haram recently did to ISIL. I posit it is a semblance of MK because it does not aim at involving human casualty during its exercise.

That said, with an estimated 31.25 litres of petrol sold for 160 naira per litre, translating to 5,000 naira, the exact amount promised by APC to be paid monthly for unemployed graduates and under-privileged during last election campaign, it is thought-provoking why the governing party reneged on its statement. Let us be wary of the kind of the type of covenant we enter into. Another way for putting it is let us make our word our bond. Although politics give room for deceit, betrayal and manoeuvers, such should only exist internally for party affairs. Its import into national issues is detrimental to nation building in what Odia Ofeinum refer to as snowballing into ‘travails of managing Change in a society’ which earnestly look up to one. The resultant effect of youth restiveness and redundancy is what currently play out on the country’s political landscape.

With continued bombardments and aggression towards the Nigerian state, another dynamic of militancy could snake into insurgency, the trajectory of victory is inevitable so long as issues herein remain unaddressed. Africa’s most populated, and in extension Black world most populous nation’s president security details is vast aware of repercussion when intelligence is ignored, hence abortion of Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Ogoni on 2nd of June 2016. The Nigerian federation has two roads to go: follow the path to harmony or choose the one to discord, which would you choose as an individual?

– Adedayo Osho is a political science graduate of University of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria. A freelance journalist and lead analyst for Adedayo Osho Centre For Civic & Political Enlightenment. He can be reached on Twitter @Jahpolitical Mobile: 09030589989

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The New Face of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme By Mene Lube

The Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Program was set up in 2010 by former president Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua GCFR. The sole purpose of the programme was to help rehabilitate and reintegrate militants in the Niger Delta who had accepted presidential amnesty given to them. It was on June 25, 2009 that President Yar’Adua proclaimed a 60-day unconditional amnesty period for these militants with the terms of willingness and readiness to surrender their arms, unconditionally renounce militancy and sign an undertaken to this effect.

This whole process went as planned, with a success rate of over 80%. The few that didn’t accept the amnesty offer became loners, lost relevance and withered away. This success paved way for the Amnesty Programme.

The programme has recorded great success, with over 17,000 persons rehabilitated. From vocational training to post graduate scholarships to even training of pilots; the programme successfully transformed these repentant militants to qualified, confident pluses to the society. Along the line, young vibrant non militant youths, stood up and requested a stake in the process, and they were gladly given. No one was left behind in the quest to develop the intellectual capacity of the Niger Delta Region.

With the appointment of Brigidier Gen (Rtd) P.T. Boroh, the coordination of the scheme has improved tremendously. As a retired General, with no political ties, and zero tolerance for failure, Gen Boroh has succeeded in flushing away the political atmosphere in the scheme and brought professionalism into the agency.

From what is on ground now, gone are the days, where politicians will be used to run agencies of such high importance. The amnesty programme is a very strategic scheme that deals with the heart, soul and weapons of a region. It cannot be toyed with. It should not be run by politicians. Lots of factors are responsible for the peaceful coexistence of Nigerians; the proper handling of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme is one.

 

Mene Lube, a socio-political commentator sent in this piece from Delta State viamenelube@yahoo.com

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Amnesty International Accuses FG Of Obstructing Justice For 640 Boko Haram Detainees Murdered By Soldiers

Global rights group, Amnesty International (AI) has accused the Federal Government of withholding justice for the 640 detainees slaughtered by soldiers in Maiduguri barracks two years ago.

AI stated that Nigerian authorities have failed to conduct an effective, impartial and independent investigation into the killings after they were slaughtered by Nigerian soldiers.

Amnesty International in a statement stated that it has repeatedly called on the government to initiate an independent and effective investigation into the crimes under international law but despite repeated promises by the government that AI’s report will be looked into, no concrete step have been taken to begin an independent investigation.

It stated, “?Two years after at least 640 recaptured detainees were slaughtered by soldiers of the Nigerian Army, the authorities have failed to conduct an effective, impartial and independent investigation into the killings, said Amnesty International.

“The detainees – men and boys, many arbitrarily arrested in mass screening operations – were killed after they fled the barracks in Maiduguri, Borno state on 14 March 2014 following a Boko Haram attack. The majority were shot. The others had their throats cut. To mark the anniversary of this massacre, Amnesty International campaigners will be gathering outside Nigerian embassies around the world to call for independent investigations and prosecutions.

“It is shocking that two years after these horrific killings there has been no justice for the victims and their relatives,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

“The lack of an independent investigation has meant that no one has been held to account for the killings, strengthening an already pervasive culture of impunity within the military.”

“Amnesty International has extensively documented the events of 14 March 2014, interviewing dozens of witnesses, verifying video evidence of the killings and their aftermath and confirming the locations of mass graves through satellite imagery.

“In June 2015 Amnesty International published extensive evidence of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity committed by the Nigerian military. The report found that the military extrajudicially executed at least 1,200 men and boys, and almost certainly many more, between 2012 and 2014. A further 7,000 detainees died in military detention as a result of starvation thirst, disease, torture and a lack of medical attention. Torture is routinely and systematically used by security forces in Nigeria, both during arrest and in detention. Soldiers arbitrarily arrested more than 20,000 suspects since 2011 and detained the overwhelming majority of them without access to their families or lawyers, without formal charges and without ever bringing them to court.

“Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Government of Nigeria to initiate independent and effective investigations into its evidence of crimes under international law and to implement critical safeguards against human rights violations.

“Yet, despite repeated promises by President Buhari and his government that Amnesty International’s report would be looked into, no concrete steps have been taken to begin independent investigations. Many safeguards remain absent, for example suspects continue to be held in military detention without access to their lawyers or families, without charge and without being brought before a judge.

“After more than nine months in office, President Buhari must take urgent action to provide justice for the conflict’s thousands of victims and prevent such violations occurring again.

“In the two years since the Giwa killings, the pattern of unjustified use of lethal force by the military has continued with no one held accountable,” said Netsanet Belay.

“From Giwa to Zaria, from the north east to the south east, the time has come to break the cycle of impunity that has gripped Nigeria. This should start with justice for the Giwa 640.”

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Amnesty International And The Nigerian Army: Separating Facts From Fiction By Philip Agbese

Last week there was a reported meeting between the Nigerian Army and the international non-governmental organization (NGO), Amnesty International (AI) in Abuja, Nigeria. From what we gathered was at the instance of the Nigerian Army.

Although it was a closed door meeting, feelers from the meeting pointed to the fact that the Nigerian Army briefed the organization and also answered all the questions it raised in its numerous reports and documentaries.

The meeting was indeed a welcome development as both sides acknowledged that it was first of its kind; it was the first time that any armed service of any country accorded the NGO such respect.

Similarly, for the Nigerian Army, noted for its tendency to insulate itself from exposure to such organizations in the past, the interaction was the first time.

Therefore, there were high hopes and expectations especially from the military and the citizenry as it provided an opportunity to explain or answer the allegations levelled against it over time by the AI.

For whoever has doubt about the genuine intentions of the Nigerian Army under the leadership of its Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, needs to have a rethink as he has always matched words with deeds. They have defeated the terror group Boko Haram making it possible for many communities to return home picking the pieces to continue with their lives. A feat that could not be achieved in six years was accomplished within six months!

The concerted efforts to improve civil-military relations brought about renewed vigour in interfacing with so many stakeholders, NGOs, Civil Society Organizations and the media. It has also been collaborating with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)  and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) amongst others. The collaboration led to training workshops and continued consultation for the benefit of the society.

It is not surprising that the Army initiated a meeting the AI. Unfortunately, the comments of the leader of the delegation to the meeting were to say least, very disappointing. After acknowledging the commendable commitment of the Army for a thorough investigation of all the allegations and explaining the line of action taken or disciplinary measures meted out to those found wanting, the NGO was not satisfied but brought new sets of unrealistic demands.

It is really curious to understand the motive and interest of AI or what they want to achieve. Whatever it is, such motives I dare say, were not in the best interest of our collective wellbeing or for the peace and security of our great nation. Apart of being rude, the posture of Amnesty really left so many questions as to its sincerity.

Moreover, there a lot of loopholes in the process of its investigations to discredit any report produced from such exercise. The Nigerian press and indeed all Nigerians should be very cautious of the AI. Their reports mainly were based on hearsay. Those that AI decided to access and interact with in arriving at its conclusions are those criminals and misguided elements that propagate anarchy and misinformation.

AI needs to review its mode of investigations. It must recognise sovereign states and the legally constituted organs of the government like the Nigerian Army. It must recognise the layers of administration and authority within such government institutions.

The Nigerian Army has its established legal system. Therefore, infringements, if any, on the rights of individuals by personnel of Nigerian Army are independently and impartially investigated by the higher administrative command of those involved. The AI must accept this and respect every institution of a sovereign state. In similar vein, our local human rights organisations are advised not to blindly echo antagonistic positions of the so-called human rights watchdogs at the detriment of national security and our sovereignty.

I think it is about time that AI should critically examine all those allegations and know that they were nothing but cheap blackmail and should therefore consigned to the dustbin of history. AI officials should also apologise to the Army and all the officers they falsely accused.

I shall at this point echo the wise words of General Yakubu Gowon, former Head of State that “AI should also apologize to Nigerians and the Army and all the officers they falsely accused.

“The Army should make its investigations and the punishments meted out to all those found wanting public to enable Nigerians and indeed the whole world appreciate its efforts.”

*Agbese is an international public affairs commentator and contributed this piece from Cebu City, PHILLIPPINES.

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Nigeria @55: Obiano Grants Amnesty to 25 Prisoners

The governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has granted amnesty to 25 Nigerians serving different jail terms in the state as part of the activities marking the 55th Independence Anniversary celebration in the country.

Announcing this at the high ceremonies marking the event at the Alex Ekwueme Square Awka, Governor Obiano enthused that at 55, there was so much for Nigerians to be thankful for despite the numerous challenges that are currently weighing the country down.

“Fifty five years is a milestone in the life cycle of nations. It is even more so in Africa and other developing of the world where the very idea of nationhood is perpetually on trial. We must all be thankful to Almighty God for his special love and infinite grace to Nigeria, Governor Obiano enthused, pointing out that if Anambra could wade through the thorny path of its recent history to its present state of security and stability, there is hope for Nigeria.

“It is along this line that I have decided to give hope to the hopeless amongst us by exercising my prerogative of mercy and granting amnesty to 25 prisoners serving different terms in the three prisons in Anambra State,” the governor declared, offering a new lease of life to 25 prisoners, five of whom were from Awka Prison, six from Aguata Prison and fourteen from Onitsha Prison respectively.

Among the prisoners that were granted amnesty, 22 were freed while 3 that were serving life sentences were commuted to 21 years and one Echezona Omekanne who was awaiting the hangman’s noose had his sentence commuted to 21 years.

Among the freed convicts are Faith Nweke who had been serving her term with her baby, Pascal Okoli, Ignatius Ohams and Kanayo Arinze who urgently need medical attention.

The granting of amnesty to the prisoners followed a recommendation made to Governor Obiano by the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, prompting the governor to exercise the powers conferred on him by section 212 of the Nigerian Constitution

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Boko Haram: FG Commences Probe Of Amnesty Report On Military

The federal government has constituted an investigation into the allegations levelled against the Nigerian military by the Amnesty International.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, signed by the permanent secretary, Amb. Bulus Lolo, and made available to newsmen in Abuja, he described the Amnesty International report as “serious allegations levelled against the military.”

He said that the federal government was deeply concerned about the rights and the safety of all Nigerians adding that, “it will ensure that the culprits are brought to book.

“Due to the magnitude of the allegations, the President Buhari-led government is looking into the report with a view to establishing the fact of the matter and has, therefore, instituted an investigation and assures that there will be no cover-up,’’he said.

The permanent secretary also said that the military, conscious of its constitutional mandate, had undertaken an on-going investigation into the allegations of wrongdoing by its personnel.

Lolo said the military, in line with its training, ensured the highest level of professionalism by its officers in the conduct of its operations. He pointed out that the Nigerian military operations, both internally and internationally, had earned it well-deserved respect.

The permanent secretary, however, said that the state of emergency imposed on the three states worst-hit by Boko Haram, namely Adamawa, Borno and Yobe,empowered the military to arrest, interrogate and detain any civilian actively involved in terrorist activities.

“In Nigeria, as in other regions where terrorists have unleashed their evil acts without a scintilla of respect for morality, extreme measures are sometimes required to contain extremism.

“It is a well- known fact that Boko Haram respects no laws at all, including sacred religious laws that the group claims to cherish.We find it nonetheless very worrisome that Amnesty International has yet to comment on the horrendous, mindless and ruinous activities of Boko Haram,” he said arguing that “indeed, the victims of Boko Haram’s despicable activities deserve justice and sympathy.

“In the meantime, the Government of Nigeria reaffirms its unflinching commitment to fighting terrorism in all its forms.

“In this regard,Nigeria will continue to work and count on the support of its neighbours, as well as its international partners,’’ he added.

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