Said he: “My dear good people of Bayelsa State, I have cause to formally come before you to thank you for the overwhelming reception you accorded me on my arrival a few days ago from London, where I had been held against my will on charges of money laundering.
I assure you that I have been a pawn in an elaborate power game staged in a foreign land. I have been used as the guinea pig in an awful experiment that goes to confirm how far political vendetta can go when you fight a minority cause,” he said.
The governor claimed he had reportedly been under investigation since last March and on September 15, he was intercepted in London aboard a British Airways flight on his way from Germany where he underwent surgery.
“I was humiliated in the most unexpected manner and put behind bars. The Metropolitan police imposed illegal bail conditions on me. I challenged the bail conditions. The judge ordered that I be allowed to exercise my freedom,” he recalled.
“As I stepped out of the court, however, I was hurriedly re-arrested Nigerian-style. I was slammed with a three-count charge of money laundering. This provided t he excuse that the court needed to place me under custody. From that time on, the police applied for one extension after another to keep me away from the warm embrace of justice.
“Today, I am glad to be back home. I dare say that I am being persecuted on account of the convictions I have continued to promote about the need for justice, equity and fair play in our nation. I take it all in good faith. “This is the land of my birth, and I am back here in one piece because God took an interest in the matter, and God will continue to intervene in this case until His will is perfected,” he said.
Alamieyeseigha alleged that contrary to democratic practice as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, there is an unconstitutional intervention in the affairs of Bayelsa State by the Federal Government and her agents, especially the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), to rubbish the state and bring her leadership to disrepute. He said that nothing explains this better than the fact that members of the state House of Assembly were invited to Lagos by the EFCC under the pretext of investigating their constituency project allocations.
“Instead, they were compelled to endorse my impeachment from office in the full glare of the camera, and made to address a press conference orchestrating my notice of impeachment,” but “the notice of impeachment has not been served on me, in spite of what is being repeated in the media.” “I also have it on good authority that a phoney letter of resignation purportedly signed by me is about to be given wide publicity. It is a mark of just how desperate my detractors want to hound me out of office. Let me state categorically that I have not resigned, and until I see good reason to do so, I remain the chief executive of Bayelsa State,” he declared.
The governor also claimed that “Even as I speak to you, I have it on good authority that there is a plan to assassinate or kidnap me. As a prelude to that plan, my official security is already being withdrawn. This is a repeal of the Anambra scenario. It is bound to fail.
“I urged you to pray without ceasing in the belief that, in the fullness of time, the Almighty God will bring this drama of desperation to a close,” he pleaded.
Also yesterday, the British High Commission in Abuja said it has received a confirmation from the Metropolitan Police Service in London that Alamieyeseigha is in breach of the bail conditions set by Southwark Crown Court in the United Kingdom.
The breach of the bail conditions according the High Commission includes failure of the governor to report to the Police on Friday, November 18 and on subsequent days since his escape from London last week.
“The Governor failed to report to the police station on Friday 18 November and on subsequent days. The Metropolitan Police Service retain the passport seized from the Governor Alamieyeseigha at the time of his arrest and retained as a condition of his bail,” the statement issued by the Press and Public Affairs section of the British High Commission and made available to NewAge read in part.
In view of this development, the London Police said that bail securities and sureties totaling £1.25 million remain in place and assets valued at approximately £10 million are currently restrained by order of the High Court in London.
It stated that the courts in the United Kingdom normally grant bail in cases where a person has been charged but is not deemed to be a threat to public order, and those bailed are not put under 24 hour surveillance, noting that when bail conditions are breached, any securities and sureties in place are liable to be declared forfeit.
“We deplore the fact that Governor Alamieyeseigha chose to break his bail conditions rather than face a court of law in the United Kingdom,” noted the British High Commission.
Interpol Lagos area office at the force criminal investigations department, Alagbon, yesterday said it was yet to receive any official warrant of arrest placed on Alamieyeseigha, even as EFCC sources hinted that they were ready to work with the British government in extraditing the governor face criminal charges of money laundering in London.
When New Age called at Interpol office, the commissioner was said to have gone to Abuja, however, reliable sources disclosed that “the body has tied up its end to commence implementation of any government directive as it affects governor Alamieyeseigha in the shortest possible notice. For now, I can tell you, we are yet to receive any formal warrant on him.” The senior police officer hinted on an existing bi and multinational security agreements in respect of repatration of suspects between Nigeria and Britain, the commonwealth and Interpol as a security body. Meanwhile, EFCC said it was ready to assist Britain and any country in the fight against corruption and other economic crimes.
Mr Ibrahim Lamorde, head of Lagos office of the commission disclosed that the body had done much since the escape of the governor from London. “We have kept tab of developments and would act at the appropriate time. We shall do what the law says in respect of cross border criminals or suspects in terms of assistance,” he said.
EFCC spokesman, Mr Osita Nwajah said the invitation of the Bayelsa State legislators had been long planned.” Their presence or coming now is only coincidental and other meaning should not be read into it.” Meanwhile, the state working committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State has asked Governor Alamieyeseigha to choose the path of honour by immediately resigning from his position as governor of Bayelsa State or face impeachment.
The committee at a meeting on Monday night declared that if Alamieyeseigha fails to resign from his position within three days of the communication of the party’s resolution to him, the Bayelsa State House of Assembly should commence impeachment proceedings against him. As mixed reactions continue to trail the purported bail jump by Alamieyesiegha, former Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Bola Ajibola yesterday said that there was no hiding place for the governor . Ajibola, while reacting to the governor’s escape, explained that despite running back to Nigeria to escape from the long arms of the law, the governor could never escape prosecution over charges of money laundering for which he was dragged to court.
Also the Zero-Corruption Coalition, a coalition of non governmental organisations fighting corruption in Nigeria says that the return of the Bayelsa state governor, to Nigeria has demeaned the office of the governor and calls to question, his suitability for such an office.
In a press statement signed by its National Coordinator, Lillian Ekeanyanwu, the coalition expressed dismay and disappointment at the undignified conduct of Alamieyeseigha in jumping bail and escaping from the United Kingdom under disguise.
According to her, the lack of integrity and dignity which the governor has exhibitedcalls to question his suitability for the high office he holds, adding that the his bail conditions imposed certain restrictions on him which he has defiled.
The Nigerian Bar Association, Plateau State Branch has described Alamieyeseigha’s “escape from London as a national disgrace, condemning his action of jumping bail as embarrassing” In an interview with NewAge, the chairman of the Bar, Barrister Garba Pwul said, the governor’s action of jumping bail portends danger and showcases that the Governor’s incompetence to be a leader.
According to Pwul, the spirit behind the immunity clause as enshrined in section 308 of the 1999 Constitution is not to shield beneficiaries from crimes they committed but for the purposes of administration. “Justice is universal and must be respected by members of the international community and if a foreigner commits a crime in Nigeria they must be made to face the laws of the land likewise a Nigerian,” he said. Also former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Christian Onoh has warned the Nigerian authorities against shoddy handling of the Alamieyeseigha saga.
Onoh who described the Bayelsa governor’s escape as a national embarrassment however warned that any attempt by the federal government to clampdown on the fugitive governor might result in a popular revolt by the Ijaw nation.
Bayelsa Dep Gov shuns exco meeting ... Alamieyeseigha denies rift • Thursday, November 24, 2005
The Bayelsa State Executive Council (SEC), after more than two months of redundancy, was on Tuesday reconvened by the embattled state Governor, Chief Diepriye Alamieyeseigha with his Deputy, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, conspicuously absent.
Though, no reason was given for his absence, observers believe it is the beginning of a soured relationship between the governor and his deputy.
However, Chief Alamieyeseigha while addressing the SEC denied any rift between him and his deputy but described the absence of the deputy governor from the meeting as a sensitive issue. The governor further stated that it was wrong to delegate sensitive matters such as budgeting to a deputy.
Chief Alamieyeseigha told members to regard what happened to him as history since he has no intention to begrudge any person because his travail in London was the prize of leadership.
The governor pledged to serve Beyelsa and Nigeria diligently, according to the oath of office he took.
Responding, Professor Palmer Jonney, said Chief Alamieyeseigha's ordeal was politically motivated, and thanked God for His divine intervention.
Professor Jonney, who is the state commissioner for education, praised the governor for his courageous step to free himself, and urged him not to be discouraged by the incident in serving God and mankind.
British High Commission, Interpol react to Alamieyeseigha’s bail breach • Thursday, November 24, 2005
The British High Commission in Nigeria has deplored Gov. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha's breach of his bail conditions rather than face a court of law in the United Kingdom.
A statement issued yesterday in Abuja by the commission, noted that the London Metropolitan Police Service had confirmed that Alamieyeseigha was in breach of the bail conditions granted him by a London court.
Alamieyeseigha was arrested and arraigned before the Southwark Crown Court in United Kingdom on charges of money laundering involving about £1million.
The statement reiterated that anyone who attempted to launder the proceeds of corruption in the UK should be aware that that would not deter the authorities from conducting investigations.
The commission said that it would not be deterred from working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other Nigerian law enforcement agencies in enforcing the law.
“The UK government is staunchly committed to fighting against crime in Nigeria and elsewhere”, the statement added.
The commission said the bail condition granted the governor included requirement that he should report daily to Paddington Green Police Station in London.
“The governor failed to report to the police station on Friday, November 16 and on subsequent days”, the statement said.
The statement pointed out that the Metropolitan Police was still in possession of the governor's seized passport which was retained as a condition for his bail.
It further said that bail securities and sureties totaling $1.25million were still in place and assets valued at approximately $10million were also being retained on the order of the court.
The commission explained that courts in the United Kingdom would normally grant bail in cases where a person charged to court was not deemed to be a threat to public order.
“Those bailed are not put under 24-hour surveillance.
“When bail conditions are breached, securities and sureties in place are liable to be declared forfeit”, the statement stressed.
The High Commission also stated that the Metropolitan Police would seek an arrest warrant in respect of Alamieyeseigha at the Bow Street Magistrate Court.
Meanwhile, Interpol Nigeria has said it was yet to receive any request for assistance from its British counterpart on the warrant of arrest of Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Alamieyeseigha, who had been facing prosecution in a London court on charges of money laundering since September 15, jumped bail and escaped to Nigeria on Monday.
A competent source at the Interpol in Lagos told our correspondent yesterday that there was no signal yet from the London Metropolitan Police on the possibility of arresting the governor in Nigeria.
Contacted on the issue, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr Haz Iwendi, a deputy commissioner of police, declined to comment on the escapee governor.
The Tide Online