The immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan,
has said all through his tenure as President, no
Nigerian became a political prisoner or a prisoner
of conscience due to their criticisms of his
The former President made the assertion while
delivering a keynote speech at the annual Merit
Awards Dinner of the Nigerian Lawyers Association
of the United States of America, USA.
Jonathan’s assertion is coming at the heel of calls
by a cross section of Nigerians that leader of the
Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu
and other pro – Biafra agitators currently in
across the country be released.
He urged leaders to ensure unity and harmony in
Nigeria by guarding their language and conduct.
According to Jonathan, diversity could remain a
“strength only when all interest groups in the
society feel safe and secured, in their day to day
“That is why no matter what any critic said about
me, I ensured that there was both freedom of
speech and freedom after the speech.
“Under my watch not a single Nigerian was sent to
prison because of anything he or she wrote or said
about me or about the Administration that I
headed. Nigeria had no political prisoners under
my Administration and we certainly did not have
any prisoners of conscience because we ourselves
ensured that we acted according to our conscience
in all we did.
“You in the diaspora can attest to the fact that
Nigeria had no political exile. Not only did I take a
stance to allow people express their opinions
without let or fear, we also enacted the Freedom of
Information Act and by that, we tore the veil of
secrecy covering governance.
“Nigerians deserve to know how their government
functions. I am proud to say that we gave them
knowledge, and that is a genie you cannot put
back to the lamp. We gave institutions unlimited
freedom and ensured that the Nigerian Bar
Association and other professional unions,
fraternities and guilds were completely devoid of
any governmental influence.
The former President also highlighted some of his
achievements in office to include, the enactment of
the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act,
ACJA, liberty for Independent National Electoral
Commission, INEC, to operate without government
interference among others.
He said, “Finally, we enacted the Administration of
Criminal Justice Act 2015, one of the most
progressive criminal justice acts ever signed in
Nigeria. The provisions of this Act are geared
toward ensuring that the system of administration
of criminal justice in Nigeria promotes efficient
management of all criminal justice institutions,
speedy dispensation of justice, and protection of
the rights and interests of the victim of crime and
“The Act, along with other institutional reforms, will
help our country in fighting corruption and other
crimes. I am also proud of my records as a
democrat. We gave the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC), unconditional
freedom and ensured by deliberate actions that
elections were free, fair and transparent.
“We ensured that the transition from one
government to the other was peaceful. We
achieved this because in constituting the
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
we ensured that the appointments were not based
on personal relationships.
“This gave the Commission credibility and earned
the confidence of the electorate. The Chairman,
Prof. Jega, whom I appointed, was a person I had
never met in my life.
“The same sense of patriotism and profound desire
to put my country’s interest first influenced the
critical decisions I made as President of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
“The 2014 National Conference was a platform for
all Nigerians, men, women, old and young, from all
walks of life, and of diverse backgrounds, to have a
conversation about our shared challenges,
strengths and weaknesses, with the aim to
strengthen our unity.
“It was not designed to promote the political
ambition of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
“The Chairman of the Conference, Justice Kutigi, a
retired Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) has stated
publicly that I never called him or sent anyone to
him to influence any of the Conference decisions or
“They were to discuss everything except the
sovereignty of Nigeria. My sole interest and total
commitment was the unity and advancement of our