Wednesday, 28 September 2005, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK

Nigeria governor 'laundered' cash

Mr Alamieyeseigha earns less than $1,000 a month as a governor
The governor of an oil-rich Nigerian state has appeared in a UK court charged with laundering £1.8m ($3.2m) found in cash and in bank accounts.
The magistrate denied bail to Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, because of fears he might leave the UK, as another governor did last year.
The governor has accused the UK authorities of acting in a bigoted and neo-colonialist manner.
Mr Alamieyeseigha says he is innocent. He is due in court again next month.
He was originally arrested on 15 September as he passed through Heathrow Airport in London. Detectives found almost £1m in cash in his west London home.
Nigeria's anti-corruption body has been investigating the governor for more than three years.

Under Nigerian law he enjoys immunity from prosecution while in office.
However, such immunity does not extend beyond Nigeria's shores, our correspondent says.
Last year, another Nigerian state governor was arrested in London.
Joshua Dariye from Plateau state was quizzed by police on money laundering allegations involving more than £1m.
He was freed on bail and returned to Nigeria, and is still wanted for questioning by British police.
Nigeria is considered one of the most corrupt countries, but President Olusegun Obasanjo has vowed to fight the problem.
He set up the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after his election in 1999.
Although a number of senior officials have been put under investigation for alleged corruption in recent months, there has not been any significant conviction during his six years in power.

Alamieyeseigha lands in Brixton prisons
* To remain in prison till Oct 6

By Ikechukwu Eze & John Ighodaro with agency reports
Posted to the Web: Thursday, September 29, 2005

LONDON-EMBATTLED Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State was, yesterday, remanded in prison custody by a British court following his arraignment for laundering £1.8 million found in cash and in bank accounts. He will be there till October 6 when the case resumes.

The governor was denied bail because the magistrate feared he (Alamieyeseigha) might leave the UK as did Governor Joshua Dariye last year.
But his supporters back home are threatening reprisals against oil installations in the Niger Delta, while a coalition of militia youth groups - Coalition for Militant Action in the Niger Delta (COMA) -yesterday rejected a plea by the detained leader of the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Dokubo Asari, to cease action against government and oil facilities.
Governor Alamieyeseigha was brought before Bow Street Magistrate in London to hear a three-count charge of money laundering.

He was originally arrested on September 15 as he passed through London's Heathrow Airport. Scotland Yard detectives allegedly found over £1 million in cash in Alamieyeseigha's luxury London mansion.

Under Nigerian law, he enjoys immunity from prosecution while in office. However, the British Government issued a certificate, saying he has no immunity in England contrary to claims by his counsel that his arrest was an abuse.

Last year, another Nigerian state governor was arrested in London. Joshua Dariye from Plateau State was quizzed by police on money laundering allegations involving more than one million pounds. He was freed on bail and returned to Nigeria, and is still wanted for questioning by the British police.

Gov. Alamieyeseigha is in custody at Brixton Prison which was sold to government in 1862 converted into a Prison for females. Twenty years later it was again converted, this time as a military prison, and in 1898, when it was returned to the prison commissioners, the buildings were enlarged and improved and made the trial and remand prison for the whole of the London area. Now it is used for male offenders whose sentences do not exceed two years, those sentenced in the first division and for debtors and prisoners on remand.

The prison comprises four main residential units, plus health care. These are: A wing which houses 143 cells (mostly doubled, 1 for disabled), B wing which houses 86 cells (some doubled, lifer main centre for short-tariff offenders). C wing has 69 cells (all doubled, 1 for disabled), G wing 151 cells (61 doubled, 1 for a disabled person). Health Care Centre (D wing) houses 36 spaces. All cells have integral sanitation and B and C wings have in-cell electrics.
It had 798 inmates as at February 27, 2004.

Meanwhile, ethnic militants in the Niger Delta yesterday accused London of interfering in Nigerian politics and threatened to launch attacks on British citizens and oil installations if their champion was not released.

"We know that the British are not operating in our interests... we will not accept it," said Jonjon Oyinfie, president of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), which has in the past mounted armed attacks and kidnappings in the Niger Delta.

"We are mobilising to take any necessary action against the British and the Federal Government. If they push us, then they should expect the worst," he said, warning that the IYC would not simply hijack oil facilities and await a payout as similar groups have done in the past. "If we go there, the platform will be completely destroyed," he said.

Group tackles Dokubo

Also yesterday, a coalition of militant youths groups by the name Coalition for Militant Action in the Niger Delta (COMA) rejected Alhaji Dokubo Asari's order to his group, the NDPVF, to "suspend action," saying the decision was unacceptable.

In a statement, COMA said it rejected the decision and pronouncement by the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force to stay off militant action.

"This decision is unwelcome, despicable and totally disagreeable. The NDPVF has to realise that the government of the Nigerian state is not a government that listens. This assertion is also in agreement with the recent comments made by Vice President Atiku Abubakar. It is, therefore, unthinkable to believe that the same government can be reasoned with. The Coalition For Militant Action has, therefore, resolved to take full control of soon-to-be deployed military attack against interests and agents of the Nigerian state."

The coalition claimed it was a strategic alliance of all militant groups in the Niger Delta who rejected the strange decision of the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force to stay militant action.

Alliance members, according to the statement, are: The Isein Justice Movement, Ijaw Militant Group, Niger Delta Guerillas, Ogoni Justice Seeker, The Movement for Mass Militancy in the Niger Delta, Judgment Day Coalition and several others.
According to them, "we will push to completion a full 240 hours of furious rage on all agents and interests of the Nigerian state. We have identified the vultures among us and we will take them out one by one. We will make life unbearable and uncomfortable for them. We will turn their joy into pain. We will put tears in their eyes each day. We will create widows and widowers of those we have identified as vultures in our midst."

EFCC detains Hamisu Mai Rago
By Abdullahi M. Gulloma
A political associate of Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s and former Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Alhaji Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar, popularly called Mai Rago, is being detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) because of his previous roles as commissioner of finance in Kaduna state and the PTDF.
A dependable EFCC source told Daily Trust yesterday that Mai Rago, who was said to have been arrested by some operatives of the commission for questioning since the weekend, was still being detained as of 7:30pm yesterday when our reporter spoke to the source.
The former PTDF scribe was recently embroiled in a legal battle with the Kaduna state government over allegations of fraud in the award of contracts for the supply of equipment to Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital in Kaduna town, which is owned by the state government.
But in a swift reaction to the issue when contacted by Daily Trust yesterday, the Director General in charge of Media and Publicity in the Kaduna state government, Alhaji Mukhtar Sirajo, stated that the current probe of the ex-PTDF boss “has nothing to do with the Kaduna state government.”
The Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi government had earlier set up an administrative commission of inquiry which investigated the contract controversy and subsequently indicted Mai Rago. But while the Makarfi government was allegedly planning to issue a white paper on the report of the commission of inquiry, Yusuf Hamisu, who is a lawyer by profession, pre-empted the government by challenging the panel’s ruling in a Kaduna high court seeking an injunction to restrain it.
After several months of legal tussle, the former PTDF executive secretary emerged victorious as the court granted his request by restraining the government from carrying out further action on the matter.
Barely three days after the ruling however and while the Makarfi government was planning to institute a judicial commission of inquiry to re-try the matter, Mai Rago was removed from his position as executive secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund in very controversial circumstances.
It would be recalled that in May 2002, Governor Ahmed Makarfi had in a letter addressed to President Olusegun Obasanjo requested the removal of Mai Rago as the PTDF scribe. In a letter titled “Replacement of Executive Secretary Petroleum Technology Development Fund,” the governor requested that Mai Rago should be replaced by the then Secretary to Kaduna State Government, Charles Bonat, who is currently a director in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF).
The one-page letter dated May 14, 2002 with reference number T/SU/K/14/02 reads in part: “I respectfully refer to our discussion on the need for the above change and wish to respectfully forward the CV of the current Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, Mr. Charles Bonat, as a replacement for Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar as Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund
“He is a seasoned, trustworthy and honest administrator and will meet federal government’s desire to redress the issue of fairer representation raised by the senatorial zone from the state.”
Reacting to the issues yesterday however the Kaduna state spokesman reiterated that “we have nothing to do with his ordeal at the EFCC. And let me state clearly that Governor Makarfi had nothing to do with Alhaji Yusuf Hamisu’s removal from office by the federal government as executive secretary of the PTDF.”
When reminded that Makarfi had in 2002 written to the President requesting for Mai Rago’s removal from office, a copy of which letter Daily Trust has, Alhaji Mukhtar said: “Well, if you are talking of 2002, there were two letters actually. Let’s be fair to ourselves. One (of the letters) asking for his (Mai Rago’s) removal and the other asking that he should be retained.
“Yes, there was a letter asking that he should be removed. But shortly afterwards, when all the disagreements were resolved, His Excellency swiftly wrote another letter requesting that the president should disregard the earlier one”, he said. He reiterated that “we have absolutely nothing to do with his sack and predicaments at the EFCC”.