Posted by This Day Online on
A Nigerian, Chibueze Okorie, has called on United States President George W. Bush to grant him pardon that will spare him from being deported to Nigerian. According to the Daily News Brooklyn, Okorie, 47, was arrested in 1989 for being a driver for an East New York heroin ring.
A Nigerian, Chibueze Okorie, has called on United States President George W. Bush to grant him pardon that will spare him from being deported to Nigerian.
According to the Daily News Brooklyn, Okorie, 47, was arrested in 1989 for being a driver for an East New York heroin ring.
He served 18 months in prison before turning his life around by becoming a cleric.
As minister of evangelism at the Church of Gethsemane in Park Slope, Okorie has devoted his life to counselling those who made the same mistakes that he once did.
He hopes his nearly 20 years of church work can overcome his 18 months behind bars - and the alleged racism of an axed Bush administration official.
His ongoing bid has won support from church and political leaders across New York, including Senator Hillary Clinton.
The case drew additional attention when a federal official opposed to clearing Okorie was fired for making offensive comments about his application for clemency.
“This might sound racist but [the applicant] is about as honest as you could expect for a Nigerian,” former US pardon attorney Roger Adams wrote in a memo. “Unfortunately, that's not very honest.”
Adams was subsequently fired.
The deputy US. attorney general's office reviewed Okorie's file - and endorsed Adams’ recommendation. Okorie’s pardon request was denied in August.
Okorie was due in court last Friday for another immigration hearing, which was postponed to next spring.
Supporters such as state Assemblyman James Brennan (D-Brooklyn) again urged Bush to review the case and reach his own conclusion.
“Mr. Adams allegedly argued that Mr. Okorie should not be granted a pardon because he is Nigerian,” Brennan wrote to the President. “Obviously, such statements have no place in a United States pardon proceeding.”
With Bush’s time in office growing short, Okorie’s attorney is pushing for the President to take a personal look at the case before his final round of pardons.
“Making a direct appeal to the President makes sense,” said political scientist P.S. Ruckman, an expert in executive clemency.
“He has the power to override the string of prior decisions, and the problem with the pardon attorney raises legitimate questions on whether this particular case was handled properly,” he said.
Among Okorie's most vociferous backers is his 10-year-old son, Chigozie, who has written five letters to the White House.
“Do you know that the pardon attorney discriminated against my dad because he is from Nigeria?
“Is it bad to be a Nigerian? Please, President Bush, investigate this matter and pardon my dad and give him a second chance,” Chigozie said.
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