By INNOCENT OSAKWE
When anyone with a little knowledge of the Laws of the Almighty Creator looks at the way certain persons holding political positions abuse the power at their disposal, he cannot but shudder at the seed such people, out of ignorance, are sowing for themselves.
Specifically, I am writing about the governors who abuse the constitutional provision on “prerogative of mercy”, to grand pardon to, and release, notorious criminals from prison. There are many aberrations in the way some governors misuse this power, but then, some of them may have become governors through illegitimate means, which may include rigging or even murder.
While it is true that the constitution of Nigeria gives powers to governors to grant amnesty to law offenders, one obvious fact remains that there are spiritual consequences for the abuse of this power. Even though the framers of that section of the constitution may not know anything about these laws, that does not negate the fact that these laws are there and are operational.
“Section 212 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 gives a sitting governor the right to grant pardon with respect to an offence created by any law of a state after due consultation with such advisory council of the state on prerogative of mercy as maybe established by the law of the state”.
This is what the constitution, which is the document that should guide governors on the matter of prerogative of mercy, says.
Unfortunately, in some states like Rivers and Kaduna, to mention but a few where this section of the constitution is being taken advantage of, it is not clear if the criteria set out for such pardons are met.
For example, concerning the institution of an advisory council to guide the governor, there is no evidence of such councils and one clearly sees no rational reason why some persons were pardoned.
Often, these governors do not bother to ascertain if the convicts, particularly those who were convicte for capital offences, have changed and become new persons in and out to deserve such mercy. For them, it is their inalienable right to pardon prisoners and they feel justified to use the power to the fullest.
While it is not wrong for them to use this power, it is important that they look at the other side of life, that is, the natural law and what it holds forth for those who are unmindful of its effects, no matter under which umbrella such a person stands in carrying out his or her actions.
These laws of the Almighty are adamantine in their effects. ‘Whatever a man soweth, that shall he reap’. When, therefore, a governor grants prerogative of mercy to a murderer or armed robber who has been convicted and sentenced accordingly, if the felon has not changed totally and become a new human being in all aspects of his or her life; whatever sin such a freed convict commits in future, the governor who granted such pardon is tied to the felon and will partake in the punishment awaiting such an offender.
Under such a circumstance, the governor shares a portion of the guilt of the person for any other offence he commits in the future.
After all, the purpose of incarceration is to reform convicts, especially those whose offences are not capital in nature.
It even goes beyond that for a person that the murderer or armed robber harmed. Such a person is now faced with living in the same environment with his assailant, with all the negative thoughts and actions that may emanate from the offended one who probably has not forgiven the one that robbed him, or murdered someone close to him.
Such animosity will naturally be linked to the governor who created the situation by granting the pardon.
Therefore, while it is true that the constitution empowers a governor to grant pardon to someone who has been convicted, it is important that governors should not see it as an express permission to abuse that section of the law. There are natural consequences tied to it, which unfortunately are not known to most men today because of their degenerated state, as they have lost all knowledge of the laws of the Almighty with regard to what we should do and not do.
Mercy should only be applied when it is clear that the person who committed an offence has genuinely changed inwardly and has become new. But like the Bible said, ‘the heart of man is exceedingly evil, who can decipher it’? Nobody, but only the Almighty.
The section of the constitution on prerogative of mercy should not be used for political expediency, using one’s position to favour a felon who is not remorseful or sorry for the evil he or she has perpetrated against his neighbour, simply because the person is linked to you one way or the other.
It should be borne in mind that the laws of the Almighty do not recognize the positions that men set out for themselves. For instance, governor, president, chairman, minister and so on. What the laws recognize is man himself, standing alone. Hence, whatever action a person commits and thinks he can hide under the umbrella of a position in perpetrating such an act, he alone will account for it.
In natural laws, it is the spirit of man that will account for his actions without pretext. Here, positions are immaterial, for before the judgment throne of the Almighty, those positions do not exist.
Therefore, it is imperative that those giving prerogative of mercy to hardened criminals like a parting gift should also have it at the back of their minds that a natural consequence is attached to their actions.
Osakwe writes from Asaba.