Former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, on Wednesday called on the Federal Government to pardon three men executed for drug trafficking in Nigeria in 1985.
In a statement by Kalu, signed by his Media Manager, Mr Emeka Obasi, and emailed to the News Agency of Nigeria, Kalu noted that the death penalty given the trio was too harsh and punitive for an offence considered mild under the law as at 1985.
The trio — Bartholomew Owoh, 26; Bernard Ogedegbe, 29; and Lawal Ojulope, 30 – were executed by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s military administration, for drug trafficking.
The National Council of States (NCS) had on March 12 approved presidential pardon for eight Nigerians, including the late Maj.-Gen. Abdulkareem Adisa, former Bayelsa Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a convicted banker, Shetima Bulama, and five others.
“The decree that nailed them was backdated and the Justice Adebayo Desalu tribunal condemned the alleged drug couriers to death,” Kalu said.
“Owoh’s last words still make me to shiver: `I did not pray to die like this; this is a terrible death. If I knew it was going to result into death, God knows that I would never have had anything to do with it.’”
“They deserve to be pardoned post-humously,” Kalu said.
Kalu said the controversy trailing the recent presidential pardon was unnecessary. “It is part of democracy. There is freedom of speech just like the president is covered under the constitution.
“It is part of the Nigerian history. I know the then Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon pardoned the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo,” the statement said.
“Also, Alhaji Shehu Shagari recalled the late Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu from exile, and released Mrs Helen Gomwalk and Capt. Peter Temlong from jail.
“A former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida pardoned the two Guardian journalists — Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson — after they were released from jail under the controversial Decree 4 of 1984.
“Another ex-Head of State, Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar also set a one-time Head of State, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo free,” Kalu noted.