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Alamieyeseigha applies for British visa • High Commission may reject application • FG to withdraw troops from Bayelsa

Posted by Yusuf Alli on 2005/12/15 | Views: 780 |

Alamieyeseigha applies for British visa • High Commission may reject application • FG to withdraw troops from Bayelsa


The embattled former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, on Thursday formally applied for a British visa to return to London for trial.

The embattled former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, on Thursday formally applied for a British visa to return to London for trial.


Findings by our correspondent indicated that Alamieyeseigha, who had allegedly become frustrated, took the decision after consultation with some of his counsel and associates in Abuja.


The former governor, who is being detained at the Nigeria Police Headquarters, was said to have preferred going back to London.


It was learnt that Alamieyeseigha’s counsel told the team that he preferred arraignment in a British court to a Nigerian court.


He was reported to have said that since the issue of jumping bail had brought a smear on the nation’s image, it was better to face trial in London.


Investigations also showed that the governor confided in a few of his associates that his travails had left him lonely and that he would want trial under a British system, where he could get a fair and decent hearing.


A top security source, however, said that after the consultation, the former governor applied for visa.


He said, “Since the beginning of the week, he has been pleading that we should allow him to go back to London. We notified the relevant authorities of his personal request.


“It was on the basis of his voluntary decision to face trial in London that we took him to the passport office of the Nigerian Immigration Service where he was issued with a new passport on Wednesday night.”


Responding to a question, the source added, “If everything works according to our plans, Alamieyeseigha will be allowed to go back to London any moment from now.”


As at press time, however, it was learnt that the British High Commission in Abuja had not issued a visa to him.


A source said, “The British High Commission is not willing to give the former governor a visa. The British Government does not want him tried again in London.


“Britain has advised the Federal Government to try Alamieyesiegha in Nigeria since he allegedly diverted funds from the Federation Account.


“Another argument of the British Government is that the cost of prosecuting a suspect for money laundering in London is much and it does not want to bear the cost.”


The British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr. Richard Gozney, was quoted by a newspaper as saying that Britain had no extradition treaty with Nigeria.


Investigations further showed that the lukewarm attitude of the High Commission forced the Federal Government to consider other options, including the trial of Alamieyeseigha in Nigeria.


A Presidency source said, “A team led by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo, has been mandated to consider the options and make a recommendation.”


The President of the West African Bar Association, Mr. Femi Falana, however, said there was an extradition treaty between Nigeria and Britain.


“Chief Anthony Enahoro was once extradited under the treaty. There is also an understanding on Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters for all.”


A Crown Court had last Thursday issued a warrant for Alamieyeseigha’s arrest when he failed to appear for the resumption of his trial on December 8.


The former governor was arrested at the Heathrow Airport, London on September 15 for laundering over £1million.


On October 14, the Southward Crown Court granted Alamieyeseigha bail on six conditions, including the seizure of his passport.


Although his movement was restricted to a three-mile radius of any port or airport, Alamieyeseigha jumped bail and fled to Nigeria.


Piqued by his action and other offences, the Bayelsa State House of Assembly on December 9, 2005 removed him as the governor of the state.


In Kaduna, the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Wednesday ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, to produce Alamieyeseigha before it.


Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Governor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday announced the planned withdrawal of soldiers and riot policemen from the state.


He said the state had progressed tremendously since Alamieyeseigha’s ouster.


Jonathan who was in Abuja to attend the National Economic Council meeting also told the State House reporters that the name of a new deputy governor of the state would be submitted to the state House of Assembly next week.


He said while withdrawal of military troops would be swifter, that of police personnel would be slower.


He added, "Now the state is calm, people can move freely. But because the presence of the soldiers and excess policemen scares the people, we agreed that we are going to pull them out gradually.”


The PUNCH, Friday, December 16, 2005

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.