Bayelsa State governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, has described his
recent ordeal at the hands of the British police as the handiwork of his
political enemies for his stand on certain national issues.
Narrating his ordeal to friends and relations at his London home weekend,
Alamieyeseigha, limping badly from his recent stomach operation in
Germany, said he left Nigeria on sick leave with his doctor and only came
to London for recuperation with members of his family who he believed
would naturally take good care of him.
He disclosed that there had been insinuations even in Nigeria that certain
people were trying to deal with him, but he had to ignore all those
warnings out of his good conscience.
"Even here in London, my family had noticed some strange movements, but we
dismissed them since we had nothing to fear," he further disclosed.
Alamieyeseigha was picked up by the Police in London on Thursday and was
taken to Ilford Police Station before he was released on Friday morning
while police investigation continues.
According to the governor, "I could not imagine how a holder of a
diplomatic passport could be treated the way I am being treated,"
stressing that the issue was beyond the money laundering allegations as it
bordered on Nigeria's national and territorial integrity.
Pressed to be specific on the so-called political enemies, the governor
said his quest for true democracy and genuine federalism, which some
people call "resource control" was at the heart of the matter.
He said even the British authorities confirmed to him that the matter was
the handiwork of the Nigerian authorities.
"This merely served to confirm my own fears as you can imagine the
Nigerian High Commission making a press statement on the arrest when they
have never made any attempt to speak to me or know my whereabouts."
Continuing he said: "It is terrible for people to use methods like this on
a sick man. They had all the time in the world to set up this shocking act
and I merely walked into it. I leave them to God."
Gov. Alamieyeseigha, who has assembled a powerful legal team headed by a
Queens Counsel, has been playing host to many Nigerians, especially
Notable among them are political appointees from Bayelsa State who have
been paying sympathy and solidarity visits to the governor's family.
As at weekend, no court hearing on the matter had been slated, but sources
close to the embattled governor's legal team hinted that his side may fire
the first shot to allow him access to his hospital in Germany, as his
health still remained fragile.
Bayelsa State governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha,
Alamieyeseigha: Tsav seeks same treatment to other governors
From Hir Joseph
The former Lagos State police boss and social critic, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, has expressed happiness over the unfortunate fate of the Bayelsa State governor, D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha, in the hands of London (UK) police, and has sought foreign security operatives to equally keep a watch over other governors in the country with a view to exposing their alleged frauds.
He also called on the National Assembly and the Presidency to consider the fate of the Bayelsa State governor as a wake-up call for Nigerian authorities. He insisted that the development should be considered as an eye-opener to expunge the controversial immunity clause which provides protection for certain officers against arrest and prosecution.
He told journalists that his call for both foreign security operatives and Nigerian authorities was necessary to stop further fraud by state governors whose actions constitute a national shame.
Alhaji Tsav wondered why state governors should continue to hide under the cloak of immunity clause to perpetrate unbridled corruption.
“The arrest of Alamieyeseigha is a national shame. God Almighty shall continue to expose those involved in corruption one after the other,” he declared.
No immunity for govs outside Nigeria —FG
By Rotimi Ajayi, Ise-Oluwa Ige & Okay Ndiribe
Posted to the Web: Monday, September 19, 2005
*Alamieyeseigha: Oil firms beef up security in Niger-Delta
ABUJA — THE Presidency said, yesterday, that Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State who was arrested in London last Thursday for alleged money laundering, or indeed any Nigerian elected government official cannot enjoy diplomatic immunity outside the shores of the country.
The state government has, however, dismissed reports that the governor was arraigned in court, while the Ijaw People’s Assembly has written to the British High Commissioner in Nigeria, protesting his arrest.
Reacting to suggestions that Governor Alamieyeseigha ought not to have been arrested since he was carrying a diplomatic passport at the time, Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, said the fact that some government officials carry diplomatic passport does not confer immunity on them outside Nigeria.
He said: "Please leave Mr President out of this matter. I am reluctant to comment on this issue because it is an on-going investigation but what I can say is that the idea of Mr President in anyway waiving diplomatic immunity for someone who is being accused of a very serious crime is not possible in law and as such does not arise.
"I don’t know where these people read their law. I don’t know where people that are saying this read their law but it is certainly not possible, neither is it desirable for Mr President to get involved in an on-going investigation in a foreign country.
"Under the British law, there is no immunity attached to a state governor. It is as simple as that and the relevant laws here (in this case) are British laws not Nigerian laws.
"Therefore, our hands are completely tied. In any case, it is not even desirable for us to get involved or to say too much about this issue other than to say as Mr President has said himself, that it is part and parcel of our on-going fight against corruption and we in government will continue to play our role in this respect.
"We are focused on what we are doing to rid this country of corruption. Those who are saying this should direct their question to the British police or EFCC."
Also speaking on the issue in an interview, an Abuja-based legal practitioner and member of the Inner Bar, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), said: "The Federal Government has the competence to withdraw the diplomatic immunity of any of its citizenry to confer on the host country the rights to investigate such citizen if the need arises as being witnessed in the Bayelsa governor’s case.
"But the immunity conferred on the governor by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot be waived on behalf of the beneficiary. It is not within the province of the Federal Government to waive or purport to waive such immunity," he said, adding that such domestic immunity only operates within the boundary of Nigeria.
Alamieyeseigha was not charged, says Bayelsa govt
The Bayelsa State Government says Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha has not been charged with any wrong-doing. The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Oronto Douglas, in a statement described reports of the governor’s purported arraignment as a mendacious campaign to smear the governor.
"It is commonplace fact that when a person is charged, certain counts would be read over to him in respect of which he is expected to plead guilty or not guilty. Chief Alamieyeseigha was not charged before any court. So the question of an arraignment does not arise. This is a trite legal matter that should not be allowed to confuse the people of Nigeria by those who have a selfish agenda," he said, adding: "Is it not surprising that until now, no one has been able to tell us the name of the court, the name of the magistrate or judge and the counts of offences?
"After he (Alamieyeseigha) was picked by the British Police at Heathrow Airport, he was taken to Ilford Police Station where he was asked a few questions and subsequently released on bail on self-recognition. It is a wicked lie to state that the governor was arraigned before a London court. Even the London Metropolitan Police has made it quite clear that this is an on-going investigation."
The commissioner expressed regrets that the governor appeared to have already been tried and convicted by sections of the media. "Under British and Nigerian laws, the governor remains innocent until he has his day in a court of law," Douglas said.
The statement indicated that the Bayelsa State Executive Council was in touch with Alamieyeseigha, adding that despite his poor health he was in high spirits.
Ijaw demand release
And in a letter to the British High Commission in Nigeria, the Ijaw People’s Assembly, Lagos asked Britain to release the governor unconditionally.
It said: "The recent arrest and detention by the Metropolitan Police, London, of the Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha (JP), the Governor-General of the Ijaw Nation and an illustrious son of the Ijaw, has come to us as a rude shock.
"You will recall that the Ijaws in Nigeria have a long standing historical, political and economic relationship with the British Crown dating back to the pre-colonial era. The Ijaws of Nigeria and the British have benefitted from this relationship till the time the Anglo-Dutch Company, Shell, discovered oil in commercial quantity in 1957 in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State.
"Your Excellency, the Ijaw People’s Assembly (IPA) Lagos sees Governor Alamieyeseigha, the Governor-General of the Ijaw nation, as a symbol of unity of Ijaws across the country and in diaspora. His arrest and detention is viewed as a serious embarrassment attributable to his political foes to frustrate his future political ambition.
"It is a collaboration between the political powers in Nigeria and the British Metropolitan Police to tarnish the image of Governor Alamieyeseigha, Bayelsa State and the entire Ijaw nation. We pray that this conspiracy does not aggravate the state of his excellency’s health.
"We urge you to use your good offices to intervene to stop this show of shame in order not to further strain the existing cordial relationship. If this is done, it will help to dampen the heightened tension generated by the unfortunate arrest."
Oil companies tighten security
Oil and gas companies operating in the country have commenced monitoring their facilities and raised security measures following threats by some militant groups in the Niger Delta to attack British interests in the Niger Delta over what they described as attempts to ridicule Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State in London.
Specifically, the Ijaw Youth Council threatened to attack British citizens and corporate interests if the governor’s papers seized following the arrest was not released to him immediately to enable him return to the country.
In a reaction, a Shell Petroleum Development Company spokesman who pleaded anonymity said the company was still monitoring the situation closely and that measures had been taken to ensure safety of the company’s personnel.