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Former President Goodluck Jonathan
said decisions taken by his administration were guided by the overall interest
of the nation and not ethno-religious or personal considerations.

Jonathan said this during the
Nigerian Lawyers Association’s annual dinner and merit awards ceremony held in
New York, on Saturday.

He noted that Nigeria belongs to
all Nigerians and as such leaders must resist anything that might want to make
them pursue a regional or narrow agenda.

The former President’s whose
comments were tweeted on his tweeter handle @GEJonathan, also reeled out what
he said were his administration’s achievements in promoting democracy and the
rule of law.

Jonathan, who spoke on the theme,
“Diversity as our Bridge to Tomorrow,” said in one tweet, “No matter what my
critics said about me, I ensured that there was both freedom of speech and
freedom after the speech.”

In other tweets he said, “Under my
watch, not a single Nigerian was sent to prison because of anything they wrote
or said about me or the administration. Nigeria had neither political prisoners
nor political exile under my administration. We enacted the Freedom of
Information Act and by that we tore the veil of secrecy covering governance.”

Perhaps in a veiled reference to
the face-off between security agencies and some judges over allegations of corruption,
Jonathan said, “We gave institutions unlimited freedom and ensured that the NBA
(Nigerian Bar Association) and other professional institutions were devoid of
any government influence, we enacted the Administration of Criminal Justice Act
2015 to promote efficient management of criminal  justice institutions in Nigeria.”

He also used the opportunity to
tell his guests that he could not be accused of nepotism because “most of my
principal aides in government hailed from different ethnic nationalities.”

On appointments into the nation’s
electoral management body, Jonathan said, “We ensured that appointments into
INEC were not based on personal relationships.”

He enjoined Nigerians in the
Diaspora especially those in the United States to continue to give support to
democratic governance back home. 
Although Jonathan did not mention any Nigerian being incarcerated for
holding an opposing political view to the administration which succeeded him,
it is common knowledge that several of his former aides and political
associates are currently in custody on corruption related charges.

As at the last count, the nation’s
former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), his spokesman,
Reuben Abati, ex-National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh and a
former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, are being detained by
the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on corruption charges.

There have been cases of
bloggers  and a print journalist in
Kaduna who were detained on charges bordering on their views considered
critical to those in power.

The Leader of the opposition in the
House of Representatives, Mr. Leo Ogor, in his reaction to the development said
Nigerians had come under threat since President Muhammadu Buhari came into
power.

He alleged that there was also
“abuse of the judicial process,” which he said, had resulted in disobedience to
court pronouncements.

However, the Executive Director of
the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education, Dr. Ibrahim Zikirulahi,
expressed a different view.

He said,  “Ex-President Jonathan claimed there was more
freedom under his regime. Is it freedom to steal our collective wealth? Is it
freedom to criminality and terror or freedom to political assassination? With
the heinous crime committed against the Nigerian state under Jonathan’s watch,
it is shameless on the part of the ex-President to make those provocative
statements.

“There are no political detainees
and no political exiles in Nigeria today. What we have are those hunted by
their corrupt practices while they were in office under ex-President Jonathan.”

Attempts to get a reaction from the
Presidency did not yield results. The Special Adviser to the President (Media),
Mr. Femi Adesina, told one of our correspondents that he was boarding a flight
and was not in a position to speak.

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