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Alamieseyeigha: Matters arising

Posted by Chidiebere Okorie on 2005/12/21 | Views: 465 |

Alamieseyeigha: Matters arising

IT is no longer news that Chief D.S.P. Alamieseyeigha, former governor of Bayelsa state, South south Nigeria is standing trial for an alledged money laundering in a London court.

IT is no longer news that Chief D.S.P. Alamieseyeigha, former governor of Bayelsa state, South south Nigeria is standing trial for an alledged money laundering in a London court. It is also no longer news that he suddenly appeared in Government House, Yenagoa, the state capital on 21st November to a tumultuous welcome by his people. This brings to two, such incidents in Nigeria. It was widely reported a year ago that Chief Joshua Chibi Dariye, the governor of Plateau state, north central Nigeria returned to Jos, the Plateau state capital under similar circumstance. This is fast becoming a phenomenon in Nigeria's political scene and it is no doubt a fall out of the Federal government's current war on corruption. While the effort of the Federal government in tackling the monster called corruption is applauded, the issue of arrests and jumping of bails and dramatic returns raises a lot of questions. Why are all the arrests in U.K alone? Are the governors and other government officials not visiting other countries?

Do they not have the so called questionable investments else where? Why has it taken the U.K government so long to crack down on corrupt public officials from Nigeria and indeed other developing nations as they are currently doing on Alemeyeseigha. Government officials are said to be enjoying immunity status both locally and internationally. Can this immunity be easily violated without voiding the constitution that produced such immunity? These are pertinent questions that need to be properly addressed. I read in the papers that the crack down on the governors by foreign governments especially those of Britain and America was at the instance of the Federal government. If this is true, a question then arises. Can the President unilaterally for whatever reason remove the immunity clause or indeed any clause from the Constitution without recourse to the National Assembly or accent of the people via a referendum according to the need of the hour? I believe in a good legal system- that which stems from a strong moral persuasion. The immunity clause I believe is a product of such. Early articulators and writers of constitutions, I believe, inserted the immunity clause after deep meditation. They must have reasoned of the collective glory and shame which could be born by an official at a certain level with the immunity status and it was an excellent reasoning for the early developers of the international justice system to have recognised and enshrined the immunity clause whereby it is applied every where today.What are we then saying, does the immunity clause create room for the public officials to commit crimes and go unpunished? Certainly no, rather the immunity clause is no more than the collar and the license given to a pastor. It is sacrilegious to manhandle a licensed pastor. If a pastor does what is unbecoming, you don't summarily lash at, dismiss or execute him. Those who have tried have suffered the dire consequences. Rather if what he has done is grave enough, you first defrock him before any other process can take place.

The simple reason is that the pastor is carrying the collective image of the body of Christ; it is shear naivety to treat any leader any how no matter how small. You can never imagine the consequences. That is the reason why every well meaning Nigerian, including my humble self protested at Mr. President's outbust on Rev. Pam over Jos crises a year ago. There is one credit to the present administration and it can be summed up in two words? Due process but it appears to me that we are becoming forgetful or should I say discrimatory in this due process thing. As one without the government just as every other ordinary man may think, due process is doing things properly - the way it is supposed to be done. To me it is to be just, fair and equitable in my conduct. It is following the constitution and the rule of law. If this is actually what the Federal government means by due process, then why is it following the war on corruption outside our shores in this way that is bringing us into ridicule and contempt before the outside world? Whoever is the adviser of the President on this matter should be sacked. He does not have the interest of the nation at heart. We know that doing things is not the issue but doing them properly. If I may ask again: Do we have a credible justice system? If yes, are we not capable of holding our own in it? Does the word Nigerian national mean anything to our leaders? Have our leaders lost the wisdom to manage our collective interest or don't we have some? One might say why all these questions. You don't need to, if you, like me keenly observed the Alameyeseigha, Federal government and U.K officials drama.

Looking at it on the surface, you can quickly say, what a good job, they are really dealing with the monster? But wait a minute, when you cast a demon from your wife and it enteres your son, what have you done? One good thing about morally upright judges is that they are always careful not to set bad judicial precedents. You can now understand what I'm driving at. If because we are dealing with our enemy (corruption) and we throw every caution to the wind, it will surely back fire or is not already back firing? You may say it is Alameyeseigha? Let him face the music. He is a corrupt governor. But that does not remove the fact that he is a governor and that office has immunity attached to it. I think logic is all about deduction and inference or are we no more logical? I would have kept quiet as I've always done over many issues in this country but I'm persuaded to speak out now, more so as our collective image which we are trying to rebuild is being battered further.

tried locally. In so doing, we will achieve the following.(1) Whatever be of national interest which need to be censored can be censored.(2) The transparency and sincerity or the federal government will be open to all.(3) Every Nigerian both at home and in the Diaspora will co-operate with the government in its effort to return every illegal wealth taken from this country not only by the Nigerian but also other nationals.I strongly advice against this approach of sending back any Nigerian national to U.K for trial on any corruption offence as announced by the E.F.C.C. Instead, let all the documents be forwarded and those involved face the law of the land in the presence of their people. If proved guilty, the shame and public contempt alone will serve as enough deterrent to others.We are of age; let us teach the whole world that we can hold our own in any matter. Europe, America and U.K can still play the big brother in other matters and not in initiation and execution of local policies. If we continue to allow them to do so, their interest will ultimately be served at our own expense and that on my mind is aiding Neo-Colonialism. Any child born must be given room to grow, even at the risk of dangerous mistakes and a man at 45 who cannot do things by himself no matter how serious is certainly infirmed and need urgent healing. If an innocent mistake is not corrected, it may lead to a deliberate one. One can be sincere but sincerely wrongFinally while I advocate strict comphance to the immunity status, as provided in the constitution. There is need for urgent review, especially on its coverage. There should be limit to offences pardonable under the immunity clause. I think this is what has landed us in the present embarrassing situation. However it can be amended today. A stitch in time they say saves nine. Pastor Chidiebere Okorie

•Mr. Okorie writes from Lagos.

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