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Nigeria: Militants drag Yar'Adua to court over amnesty

Source: Thisdayonline.com


A new twist has been added to the amnesty granted militants in the Niger Delta as some members of the Niger-Delta Peoples' Salvation Front and the Niger-Delta People's Volunteer Force have dragged President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua before a Federal High Court in Abuja, demanding to know which section of the constitution gave him powers to unilaterally grant amnesty to people.

The militants under the leadership Mujajid Asari Dokubo want the court to nullify the amnesty granted them and other persons named and unnamed for being unconstitutional, null and void.

In the suit which also has the Attorney General of Federation as second defendant, the plaintiffs, 232 in all, want the court to determine whether the President can exercise his powers to grant pardon to a person under Section 175 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, without specifying the particular offence created by an Act of the National Assembly, which the person is concerned with or has been convicted of, and for which he is granting pardon.

In the suit which was filed on their behalf by Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, the plaintiffs also want the court to determine whether it was not a violation of the principles of fair hearing enshrined in Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution for the President, while exercising his powers to grant pardon to a person under Section 175 of the same constitution, to unilaterally decide that someone is concerned with an offence, refuse to state the Section of the law the person has breached and unilaterally grant pardon to such a person and as such be the accuser and the judge, all in one.

They equally want the court to find whether, the President can exercise his powers to grant pardon to a person under Section 175 of the 1999 Constitution without the person concerned with or convicted of the said offence, applying for pardon to the President.

They want the court to declare that the President does not have the powers to grant pardon to a person under Section 175 of the Constitution, without specifying the particular offence created by an Act of the National Assembly, which the person is concerned with or has been convicted of, and for which he is granting pardon.

The plaintiffs also want the court to declare that it was a gross violation of the right to fair hearing enshrined in Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution for the President to grant pardon and refuse to mention the Section of the law the person had breached and unilaterally grant pardon to such a person and as such be the accuser and the judge, all in one.

The plaintiff also want the court to declare that the President cannot exercise his powers to grant pardon under Section 175 of the 1999 Constitution without the person concerned with or convicted of the said offence applying for pardon to the President.

The therefore want the court to nullify the pardon granted them and other persons named and unnamed for being unconstitutional, null and void.

In affidavit in support sworn to by one Daddy Mac-harry of Buguma City, Asaiga, Rivers State, the plaintiffs stated that they were surprised to hear from the President June 26, 2009, that pursuant to Section 175 of the Constitution, he grant them amnesty which expired on Sunday, October 4, 2009.

They argued that they did not commit any offence known to law to warrant the grant of amnesty to them.

According to plaintiffs, that they were left to wonder what the pardon was all about because never applied for any pardon from the Defendants because they believe they are not militants and they also believe they were not concerned with or has been convicted of any offence.

They added that they were freedom fighters and will continue their legitimate fight for freedom and self-determination in line with the United Nations Charter and we are not militants.