Former Bayelsa Governor, Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha died in a Port Harcourt Hospital on Saturday, October 10, 2015 after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Pro-APC news media carried the news last week that the British Government had re-opened its case against Alamieyeseigha and extradition request had been made to President Buhari. To the extent that some of them, in announcing his death had mentioned that he died because he was fearful of being extradited to the UK where he would have been jailed.
Sahara Reporters in an obituary for Alamieyeseigha, Saturday reported, “The former Governor returned from Dubai recently as it emerged that the government of the United Kingdom requested his extradition over an unfinished corruption and money laundering cases. The request, which had been criticized by Ijaw groups loyal to the former Governor, was seen as a political vendetta by the President Buhari Administration.”
These reports were ignited by the unearthing of a 2013 interview granted to Sun Newspapers by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Pocock, in which he said that Alamieyeseigha had an outstanding case of money laundering to answer in the UK. “The former governor skipped bail in the UK on a charge of money laundering and returned to Nigeria. So, he has an outstanding charge in the UK, which is there for him to answer,” the envoy remarked.
“We have already discussed it and the Nigerian government knows our views. But we would like to see him return and answer the charge in the UK,” Pocock maintained in the interview granted when former President Goodluck Jonathan was still in office.
APC chieftain and chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, was quoted in the media saying that “President Buhari-led government is prepared to assent to the request of the British Government as the United Kingdom has every legal right to demand for the extradition of the former Bayelsa State Governor”.
Prominent Ijaw leaders and groups in reaction to Alamieyeseigha’s death have accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari of hounding the man whom his people affectionately called, Governor General of Ijaw Nation, to death by pursuing after him to extradite him to the United Kingdom where he would face charges for crimes of which he had been convicted, jailed, and released in Nigeria.
Upon the death of the former governor and agitations from Ijaw groups and leaders that his death is connected to these reports, United Kingdom’s High Commission in Nigeria has swiftly denied that its government had re-opened the case of money-laundering against Alamieyeseigha and that there was any request before Buhari to return the former Bayelsa Governor to the UK to face criminal charges.
The High Commission called the reports “a rumour in its entirety” and there was “no renewed move to reopen the case” and said that the Nigerian media got carried away by the interview granted by the British Envoy to Nigeria, Andrew Pocock because there was a new government.
Excerpts from the ThisDay report below:
A senior officer of the Commission, who spoke confidently and on anonymity on telephone in Abuja, said the information is a rumour in its entirety, adding that the Crown Prosecution has not tabled any extradition request on Alamieyeseigha, to the High Commission.
While responding to whether it is true that that the Crown Prosecution Service of UK, has made any formal request for Alamieyeseigha’s extradition, she said the Crown Prosecution Service more often do not often give or confirm information on such matters.
She however disclosed that there is no renewed move to reopen the case. “As you know, the immediate past High Commissioner, Sir Andrew Pocock, before he left Nigeria, had in an interview averred that the manner in which Alamieyeseigha escaped from UK, made him a wanted a person.
“But as you know and with the new government of President Muhammadu Buhari, in place, the media is presenting it as if the UK has said that we need this man. There is no such thing as moves for his extradition or of anybody or organisation to recall his extradition to UK,” she said. “Like you know, the media find such issues interesting. They just jumped to and start publishing the way they like, without clarifications from the High Commission.”
In September 2005, Alamieyeseigha (then the Bayelsa State governor) was detained by the London Metropolitan Police on charges of money-laundering.