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A new twist in tbe sizzling case between former governor of Bayelsa State Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) emerged few days ago as the former alleged that the Metropolitan Police.....
A new twist in tbe sizzling case between former governor of Bayelsa State Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) emerged few days ago as the former alleged that the Metropolitan Police facilitated his escape from London where he was standing trial for money laundering. IHEANACHO NWOSU examines the claims of the embattled former Bayelsa chief executive and that of London police as well as the campaign by Alamieyeseigha to get a bail.
THE messey but intriguing drama trailing the political travails of dethroned governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha took a more heart boggling form this week.
The former governor himself initiated the new development. It has to do with his claims last Tuesday that the Metropolitan Police aided his surprising last December’s bail jump in London where he was standing trial of alleged money laundering.
Chief Alamieyeseigha, in response to the Federal Government’s objection to his application for bail at the Federal High Court, Abuja through his lead counsel, Prof Alfred Kasunmu alleged that the Metropolitan Police gave him US$3,000 and also took him to Cote d’Ivoire from where he gained entry into Nigeria.
The accusation, sort of, has opened a new chapter in the alleged money laundering saga. It has also forcibly put the British police on the defence and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on its toes.
It was not surprising that both the Metropolitan and EFCC had responded swiftly to the allegation. Expectedly, the duo had dismissed Alamieyeseigha’s claims as tissues of lies which were nothing but a mere concotion targeted at deluding the public and diverting public attention to the issues in question.
Metropolitan Police Sergeant Robert Ingram in a letter to EFCC unequivocally exonerated the London Police, stating that they neither gave money nor facilitated his escape to Cote d’Ivoire.
Part of Detective Ingram’s letter which was sent to EFCC last July 24 read "the accusation in the affidavit is completely untrue. No police officers were armed. He was not driven to Nigeria, this is fabrication. He was not taken to an airstrip and forcibly removed from the country.
"On the 15th September, 2005 when DSP Alamieyeseigha was arrested, his passport was seized, there was only one passport and no diplomatic passport was ever traced.
"A Crown Court bail condition was that his passport was to be retained by the Metropolitan Police and he was not to apply for any international travel documents.
"The comments regarding being taken to the Cote d’Ivoire are a fabrication. I have never been to this country."
Quite well, it is difficult drawing any inference on the submissions of the London police and Alamieyeseigha. Until an unbiased probe is seen to have been carried out, it would not be fair to accept either claims as the true picture of what really transpired.
But, while such stance may be acceptable, there is enough reason to look at some of the interpretations that have followed the new development in the Alamieyeseigha’s case.
Some analysts have tried to situate the former governor’s allegation as part of a desperate effort to secure a bail. They contend that by hanging the blame on the neck of the London police, the former governor intended to use the strategy to whip up public sympathy.
The argument is if Alamieyeseigha knew that the London police aided his escape to Nigeria, why did it take him this long to spill the bean.
An official of Democracy Today (DT), Mr. Eloha Barnabas argued that it was it is infantile and idiotic for Alamieyeseigha to come up with a claim such as this. "I don’t believe him because he doesn’t seem to be telling the truth. It is a diversionary tactics which will not get him anywhere. Why did it take him more than a century to say this. As far as I am concerned, it is an after thought."
However, while, he stated that Barnabas and others who hold similar opinion may have their point, it is also not in dispute that Alamieyeseigha upon his dramatic return to Nigeria had pledged to disclose how he escaped from London.
It is possible that he may have considered now the auspicious time to make such disclosure. Unleashing attacks on Alamieyeseigha over his claim and declaring him guilty may not only amount to being quick to judgement, but also ignoring hidden but vital facts surrounding the saga.
Without doubt, the former governor is desirous to getting a bail and in doing that he is not leaving any stone unturned. The desperation has to do with his alleged worsening health condition. He is currently on admission in a Lagos Hospital.
Chief Alamieyeseigha’s counsel, Prof. Kasunmu last week applied that his client be granted bail in order for him to attend to his health. The federal government opposed the application.
Reasons advanced for wanting and opposing the bail application are interesting. Among others, government’s contention is that Alamieyeseigha has the propensity to jump bail having done that in London last year.
It also argued that granting bail to the former Bayelsa chief executive will worsen the current poor security situation in the Niger Delta an argument premised on the fact that he is allegedly the major financier of the militant group.
Of course, Alamieyeseigha has denied being the sponsor of the militants even as his lawyer argued that the allegation is merely to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.
The claims and contentions of both parties are subject to investigation. Beyond the submission of federal government that Alamieyeseigha mysterious jumped bailed in London and as such could jump another if given the jump bail if a choice of where to receive medical attention cannot altogether be thrown out as lacking sense. It could however raise question as to whether it will not lead to a repeat of past ugly incident.
Two years ago, the EFCC, it would be recalled, turned down repeated requests by former House of Representatives member, Hon. Maurice Ibekwe, then detained for alleged shady financial dealings, to be allowed to seek medication in a hospital of his choice.
However when his health situation became critical, he was rushed to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), where he died after few days.
Some people who are now sympathizing with Alamieyeseigha are not doing so on the grounds that they love the man or are contesting the claims of EFCC that he looted the treasury of Bayelsa as governor. Rather, they are concerned about the likely consequencies that may follow his refusal to seek good medical attention.
This opinion is even made to be so recognising that Nigeria currently practices democracy where all actions are supposed to be tempered with sense of liberty and justice. Definitely allowing Alamieyeseigha to get good medication will not stop EFCC from ensuring that he pays for his alleged misdeeds, at least, for others in government to learn some lessons.
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