A chieftain of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, 92, says President Muhammadu Buhari should not take credit for pardoning a former Governor of old Bendel State, Prof. Ambrose Alli.
The Elder statesman said the late Ambrose Alli was jailed by a military Tribunal constituted by Buhari in 1984.
President Buhari had few days ago pardon 2600 prisoners to decongest the correctional centres as one of his measures to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The President also announced the pardoning of some late statesmen including Alli.
Responding, Adebanjo said Buhari was responsible for the unjust conviction based on trump-up charges of corruption against late Alli.
The Chieftain who is a closed associate of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and also a member of the party Ambrose Alli belonged to, said Buhari’s was probably trying to make peace with God, therefore deserved no praise for his pardon.
He said, “We always knew that Ambrose Alli never deserved to be sent to jail. He was convicted by an autocratic government led by Buhari. I cannot thank Buhari for the pardon because he punished Alli for a crime that was never committed. He gave them a punishment they never deserved.
“If he has a change of conscience and says Alli is no longer a convict, that is his business with God. He was never convicted by the constitution of the people but by Buhari’s autocratic standards. If he has a change of heart, that is his business.”
Buhari’s military government arraigned Alli on Decree 3 in 1984, according to Punch reports.
He was brought before a Special Military tribunal set up by Buhari for diverting N983,000 (over $1m at the time) from the treasury of Bendel State (now Edo and Delta States).
Alli was accused of diverting public fund to his political part, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) led by Awolowo.
The military tribunal did not find evidence that he gave money to the party but a campaign contribution given to the party treasurer by a contractor.
Alli had no legal representation because the Nigerian Bar Association had boycotted all tribunals set up by the Buhari government, describing them as unconstitutional.
While serving his jail term at Kirikiri prison, Lagos, Alli’s health deteriorated and he was almost going blind. He was transferred to Jos prison and then Agodi prison, Ibadan from where he was released.
He died shortly after he was released from prison on his 60th birthday on September 22, 1989.
The Edo State University was renamed Ambrose Alli University in Ekpoma, in honour of the late ex-governor.