Abuja/Katsina — Documents emerged yesterday showing that the late General Shehu Yar'Adua, General Oladipo Diya and the late General Abdulkareem Adisa were pardoned in 1998/99 by the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, raising questions on why President Jonathan is now pardoning them again.
The Council of State on Tuesday approved the state pardon to the three former generals, along with former Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was convicted for fraud in 2007.
But Daily Trust got a copy of a gazette signed by Abdulsalami on September 30, 1998 in which he pardoned Yar'Adua together with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was serving a life jail sentence for plotting a coup against the regime of General Sani Abacha. The gazette took retroactive effect from July 14, 1998.
Also, copies of other gazettes for the pardon of Diya and Adisa were published on the Internet yesterday.
In his reaction to the recent pardon, younger brother to General Yar'Adua, Alhaji Abdulazeez, confirmed that the late general was pardoned together with Obasanjo in 1998.
"The two retired generals were granted pardon on the 30th September, 1998.... The record is contained in the Federal Government's gazette No 54, decree 51 of October 2, 1998," he said.
"We wonder why the name of late General Yar'Adua was listed again. What is he pardoned for? We wonder how the Presidency allowed itself to be misguided by the officials handling the pardon issues. The Presidency should have checked the records before the information went to the public," he said.
There was no immediate reaction from the Presidency on this.
Critics have said the listing of the three generals in the pardon list was a desperate attempt to clear Alamieyeseigha, who was President Jonathan's boss in 1999-2005 when they held sway in Bayelsa.
But the Presidency yesterday insisted the pardon for Alamieyeseigha was granted because apart from showing remorse over the crimes he committed he had been playing key role in stabilizing the volatile Niger Delta.
"I want to state categorically here, that State or Presidential Pardon is not intended for nobility or saints. In general, a state pardon is for those who have committed crimes and breached the laws of the land and may not have been tried or convicted regardless of their social status," Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the President, Doyin Okupe, said in a statement.
"But in truth Alamieyeseigha since he left prison has been working strenuously and silently to assist the President stabilize the amnesty in the Niger Delta Region."