Alamieyeseigha: Judge Defers Bail Ruling Till Friday
Trial resumes tomorrow
From Yusuph Olaniyonu in London, 10.04.2005
The Southwark Crown Court located on English Grounds off Battle-ground Lane, London yesterday adjourned till Friday its ruling on an application filed by Bayelsa State governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha seeking to be released on bail.
If his appeal is successful, the Bayelsa Governor will be released from Brixton prison on Jebb Avenue where he has been remanded by a lower court, the Bow Street Magistrate Court.
Alamieyeseigha who was not in court yesterday is facing a three-count charge of money laundering to the tune of £1.8 million after his arrest at London Heathrow airport September 15.
A court official had informed journalists and a few others who were sitting in the gallery to go out. She said since the matter before the court was a bail application, the gallery should be cleared for the judge to sit in Chamber.
The case started about 2p.m and Justice Rivlin first adjourned for 30 minutes. During the recess, Prof. Fidelis Odittah, a Queen’s Counsel led the other members of the defence team including Barrister Damola Aderemi and a solicitor, Tayo Awojolu to confer outside the court room. The trio later went in at about 3 p.m. when the court resumed sitting.
Justice Rivlin, a Queen's Counsel, sat in Chamber Court room 4 to listen to both the defence team and the Crown Prosecution Service. A source close to the court, however, told THISDAY that Judge Rivlin adjourned the case to Friday at 2p.m. to enable the applicant, Alamieyeseigha, be produced in court.
The decision gave rise to the believe that the governor's counsel might have predicated the bail application on health grounds and that when the Crown prosecution opposed the application by insisting the applicant was not in any danger, the judge decided to see for himself.
However, while the bail application remains unresolved, the preliminary trial of the case proper will begin tommorow morning at the Bow Street Magistrate Court.
Odittah who refused to answer journalists’ enquiry in the court premises said he will later issue a press statement.
But when THISDAY called at about 6p.m. he said he was not disposed to issuing any statement again. He said what was paramount in his mind is his client’s interest. He also refused to confirm that the court adjourned ruling on the application till Friday.
The prosecution is expected to open its case by trying to prove that Alamieyesigha was actually involved in money laundering by lodging £425,000 and £475,000 in different accounts in a London bank between 2001 and now based on the discovery of £1.8 million in his house and bank account.
The prosecution will also seek to prove the about £1million found in the governor's London home were proceeds of crime punishable under the Crime Proceeds Act.
Alamieyeseigha will be brought to Bow Street Magistrate Court tommorow in line with the practice in criminal trial.
The court had last Wednesday ordered that the Bayelsa Governor should be remanded in prison till tomorrow when the trial would resume.
But Odittah last Friday rushed a bail application to an appellate court, Crown Court on Southwark Street to secure his release on bail.
The case, however, could not be heard because the Crown Prosecution Service which was the respondent,demanded that it should be allowed the mandatory 48 hours notice to respond to the application.
Alamieyeseigha gets conditions for bail
Yusuf Alli, Ofonime Umanah and Bisi Olaniyi
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, was on Tuesday given some conditions for bail by the Crown Court in London.
His movement was, however, restricted to London, thus dashing the hope of his early return to Nigeria.
In a separate incident back home, Ijaw youths in Bayelsa State resisted an attempt by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to arrest the Speaker of the State’s House of Assembly, Mr. Boyelayefa Degekem.
A source at the Crown Court said Alamie-yeseigha was ordered to produce three sureties.
While one of the sureties will provide £1million bail bond, the two others are to guarantee the governor’s bail at £250,000 each.
The source said, “The names of the three sureties will be released on Wednesday. The Metropolitan Police will do a check on the sureties and report its findings to the Crown Court on Friday.
“The court decided that the governor should report to the Metropolitan Police everyday. His passport has not been released to him.”
Reports that the governor was still in prison, pending the perfection of his bail conditions, could not be independently confirmed.
Prior to the bail reprieve, the Crown Court had, on Monday, ordered a temporary confiscation of the £10million property of the governor in the United Kingdom.
It also extended the forfeiture order to any property traced to the wife and children of the governor.
But in Bayelsa State on Tuesday, there was a different scenario as Ijaw youths resisted the arrest of the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly.
For close to two hours, the youths battled officials of the EFCC who were in Yenagoa to arrest the speaker who had been out of the country for sometime.
He was just returning to the state when the EFCC officials stormed his official residence at the Ekeki Assembly village, in company with some mobile policemen.
The youth who got wind of the information were said to have mobilised and took positions at the entrance of the quarters, preventing the operatives from taking the speaker away.
A former secretary of Ijaw Youths Council, Mr. Charles Omusuku, told our correspondents on phone that the speaker was later whisked away by the youth to an unspecified place.
He said, “When they (the EFCC operatives) got there, after about one hour discussions with him, they were insisting that he should come down to the Yenagoa police station but the people around him said no.
“They tried all their best. What happened was that the Ijaw youth came with reinforcement and forced him back to the house. We waited there, thinking that the mobile policemen would come back for reinforcement.
“Some people even got a ladder for the speaker to climb and escape. After about an hour, the reinforcement did not come, so the youth whisked the speaker away.”
Our correspondent learnt that the speaker and the EFCC officials were later seen at the Government House, Yenagoa.
When our correspondents called back at about 2pm, a legislator said that the speaker was told to go with the Deputy Governor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to the Port Harcourt office of the EFCC.
The PUNCH, Wednesday October 05, 2005