Nigerians are really a special breed. Some events emanating from Nigeria and Nigerians not only are bizarre but unthinkable in other parts of the world-including Niger that it is unable to feed its populace.
The Governor of the oil-rich Bayelsa State in South-South Nigeria made (in)famous by abject poverty of indigenes and widespread environmental oil pollution was arrested in London allegedly in possession of millions of foreign currency obviously stolen from the Bayelsa state treasury to be laundered outside at the detriment of the masses of that state.
Ironically,instead of mass and popular condemnation and protest of the despicable act of the Governor, some faceless,unscrupulous,shameless,sycophantic and psycopathic groups sprouted out like mushroom to blame President Obasanjo's government for "instructing" the
British government to effect the arrest of "saint" Alameiyeseigha as if the Metropolitan Police is the same with our "Indomie Noodle" police farce.
The so-called Governor-General of Ijaw Nation-whatever that means-has been most patrotic for travelling with a widow mite of 1 million dollar that the misgotten Ijaw rags(definitely not genuine Ijaw Youth) has threatened to "Baghdadize" British interest in the region.Haba!!
The Atiku Abubakar group should come out and boldly dissociate itself of the disgrace and dishonour Alameiyeseigha has inflicted on Nigeria.
Alamieyeseigha innocent until proven guilty, says Obasanjo
Meets with Bayelsa elders
Expresses shock at governor's arrest
From Madu Onuorah,
(Abuja), Kayode Ogunbunmi and Blessing Eghagha, (Lagos)
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday declared that the Bayelsa State Governor, who is currently being quizzed by the London Metropolitan Police, remains innocent until proven guilty.
The President told a delegation of Bayelsa State elders, led by its Deputy Governor, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck, that he had directed Nigeria's High Commissioner to Britain, Dr. Christopher Kolade to ensure that full consular services were provided for Alamieyeseigha while the governor remains in Britain.
This, Obasanjo said, is to help the Metropolitan Police in their investigations because, guilty or otherwise, Chief Alamieyesiegha remains a Nigerian citizen. The President told the delegation that he was embarrassed at the news of the governor's arrest and that it is a feeling he believes all Nigerians share.
He said: "The truth is that the governor has not been arraigned and until he is proven guilty, we presume that he is innocent."
He told the delegation that he was yet to receive any written report on the governor's arrest. But he expressed the hope that the British authorities would "hasten" their investigations into his case "so that we can know the true situation."
He urged indigenes of Bayelsa State to "exercise patience and not raise any dust that will worsen the situation. What is important is that the issue on the table must not be ethnicised, sectionalised, or religionalised."
President Obasanjo urged the deputy governor and elders of Bayelsa State to maintain the peace and security in the state, and "hold the people together" whilst awaiting the outcome of Governor Alamieyeseigha's arrest in London.
He praised the deputy governor for behaving like a "complete gentleman" in his handling of the affairs of the state in the governor's absence and urged him to remain loyal to his oath of office.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation made up of traditional rulers, religious leaders, opinion leaders, federal legislators and elder statesmen, former civilian governor of old Rivers State, Chief Alfred Diette-Spiff, assured President Obasanjo that Bayelsa State would remain stable and peaceful.
He told the President that the deputy governor was handling the affairs of the state effectively and that the people of the state were giving him their full cooperation.
Jonathan kept mum after the meeting with the President while Diette-Spiff simply said: "You will be briefed by the President's Press Secretary."
Chairman of the Governors' Forum and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, told State House correspondents that no matter what it takes, the integrity and dignity of Nigeria and Nigerians must be preserved.
He said that a meeting of all governors would hold next Tuesday to discuss Alamieyeseigha's detention in London.
Attah said: "This is the whole experience we want to examine. We do not want to hide behind integrity of a nation to tell the world either that we are tolerant of any wrongdoing since a wrong has been established or can be established. We will have to look at that. But by the same token, there is no denying the need, as you said, to preserve the integrity and dignity of a nation. I want to remind everybody that there was something called Jenkins Ear War. Those of you who can look up issues, go and look at what happened in the Jenkin's Ear War. For violating the ear of an Englishman, Britain went to war. So that is how jealous countries are over the protection of their citizens.
"Nigeria must give itself the same dignity. But that dignity can also be eroded if everybody outside looks at us as criminals. So you have to do things in such a manner that you don't create or put yourself into disrespect. In the same token, you must not do it to show that your country condones or tolerates wrong. We were supposed to have had a meeting of the Governors Forum where we would have examined the whole thing, but unfortunately we didn't hold that meeting. So, I cannot give the position of the Governors Forum on the matter. We expect that we would be able to meet next week and I would be able to give you our position on the matter."
On the distribution of the registration cards of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the national headquarters, Attah said: "There is no governor that is expected to have the registration cards of his state. It is a party matter and should go to the party. And our cards have gone to the party. We may not have been happy about the channel by which it went. They have gone to the party and we should be satisfied as you have heard from me and not what you heard from anybody else."
Also yesterday, the Press Secretary to Alamieyeseigha, Preye Wariowei, said former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, visited the governor in London.
Abubakar's visit to Alamieyeseigha at his London home, Wariowei said, came on the heels of similar solidarity missions by prominent individuals and groups, including the Ijaw Peoples Association of Great Britain and Ireland (IPA), Bayelsa Union in the United Kingdom and a delegation of Ijaw students in the United Kingdom.
The leader of the South-South delegation to the recently concluded National Political Reform Conference (NPRC), Chief Edwin Clark, had visited the Bayelsa State governor at Ilford Police Station and followed him to his residence.
Prof. Itse Sagay and former Justice Minister, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, are some of the leading lawyers who have spoken against the arrest of the governor.
Sagay said Alamieyeseigha has the same immunity against prosecution that the President of Nigeria enjoys under Nigerian and British laws. Nwabueze supported this, saying Alamieyeseigha enjoys immunity from prosecution under local and international laws.
The Alamieyeseigha affair widens
•Abdulsalami Abubakar pays solidarity visit in London
•EFCC arrests Managing Director of All States Trust Bank
• Itse Sagay, Nwabueze accuse Britain of illegality
By HENRY EBIRERI and AUSTIN EBIPADE, Yenagoa
Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) last Sunday visited the Bayelsa State governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha in London in a show of solidarity with the governor on his current predicament whereby he is unable to leave London after his arrest.
In a growing dimension of the Alamieyeseigha saga, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is holding the managing director of a Victoria Island-headquartered bank who was arrested by the Commission yesterday for questioning.
The bank was said to have been a conduit through which the embattled governor carried out his financial transactions.
Against this backdrop, many people in Bayelsa have begun to withdraw money from their account in the Yenagoa branch of the bank to ensure that their monies are not trapped should the federal government move against it. Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail the governor’s arrest, legal practitioner and scholar, Professor Itse Sagay has dismissed the action of the British authorities as an exercise in illegality, saying “I believe they are conspiring with some officers of the Federal Government to violate international law.”
He said the governor has the same immunity against prosecution that the president of Nigeria enjoys under Nigeria and British laws.
Leading constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze also said Alamieyeseigha enjoys immunity from prosecution under local and international laws.
In yet another development, the contractor handling the governor/deputy governor's lodge, has been arrested by the EFCC The Commission is said to believe that it could obtain useful information from him over what was believed to be the ever-escalating cost of the project.
Alamieyeseigha: EFCC investigates 10 banks
Oluyinka Akintunde, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has begun investigation of 10 banks over money allegedly laundered through them by the Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamie-yeseigha.
Sources said that the EFCC operatives visited 10 banks in Lagos on Wednesday during which top management staff of the banks were quizzed.
There was apprehension on Thursday evening that the Chief Executive of one of the banks at Oyin Jolayemi Street, Victoria Island, was arrested by the commission.
The Commission confirmed that it was following up on its lead on Nigerian banks used by state governors for money laundering.
The acting Director, Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit of the EFCC, Mr. A.B. Okauru, told newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, that the commission was tightening the noose on money launderers and financial institutions used for such transactions.
He said Nigerians laundered $7billion annually, out of $10billion laundered across West Africa.
Okauru said, “By our calculation, the sum of $10billion is laundered in the West African sub-region, out of which Nigeria accounts for $7billion. The Nigerian economy is the most buoyant in the sub-region. In West Africa, you have a population of 210million, out of which Nigeria accounts for 150million.
“The EFCC is responsible for the enforcement of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act and a new department, the NFIU, is responsible for managing suspicious transaction in the country.”
The World Bank had in the first quarter of this year disclosed that a total of $1.5trillion is laundered annually across the world.
Asked if the arrest of two Nigerian governors by the Metropolitan Police in London for money laundering did not suggest failure on the part of the commission, Okauru said the apprehension of money launderers resulted from a collaboration between the EFCC and the rest of the world through the Financial Intelligence Unit.
He said that the commission was currently investigating some banks used by governors in the country for money laundering.
He, however, refused to name the affected banks and the governors under investigation for money laundering.
He said, “There are a number of leads that we have and we are looking at a number of issues around the question you asked on banks conniving with governors to launder money abroad. I am not in a position to verify anything or to tell you the banks. There are a number of cases under investigations and I will like to leave it at that.
“When you say failure on the part of EFCC, I don’t understand. We are doing what we are supposed to do. It is a small world now and you could be tracked anywhere. The beauty about the new regime is that the world is one community and you could be tracked either within or outside a country.
“It is no longer possible to pick up money here and run to North America or to Europe. Once you route your funds through any financial system, there is tendency for them to track what you have. We have FIU in Nigeria and a pre-condition for having FIU is that you have relationship with other FIUs.
“Every country has got one FIU. The NFIU under EFCC has relationship with virtual all other FIUs around the world. Every time there is a problem anywhere, we can track that easily unlike what it is before.”
The PUNCH, Wednesday, September 22, 2005