Diepreye Alamieyeseigha

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. Photo: Premium Times NG

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha; Bayelsa State Governor, 1999-2005, a proponent of resource control and the sovereignty for Ijaw nation other than Nigeria. DSP styled himself the “governor-general” of the Ijaw nation due to his influence among the ethnicity from Ondo to Cross Rivers. Following his celebrated corruption case, he was impeached by the state House of Assembly and succeeded as governor in December by Goodluck Jonathan who was to become President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, (2011-15).

As governor, Alamieyeseigha attempted to generate and distribute electricity without billing citizens, though many in reality had access to electricity. His monthly salary of #74,000, he admitted, could not pay his bills. After a string of ordeals from his incarceration in Britain in 2005 to his re-arrest in Nigeria, following a surprise return in October of same year, Alaieyeseigha pleaded guilty to allegation of criminal conduct brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The Lagos High Court therefore sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment to run for only two years[i].  While his trial in Nigeria lasts, Alamieyeseigha developed worsening hypertensive heart disease and diabetes mellitus[ii]. He died 10th October, 2015 at the age of 62.

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha alleged serious rots in his interview to local media in 2009, advising a peep beyond creek militants  in the business of oil bunkering but their sponsors who he said were working with international criminal gangs[iii].

 

Corruption charges

In September, 2005, EFCC officers interrogated and arrested Solomon Apreala, Commissioner for Finance; Steven Emamanu. Accountant-General; Oiaitari Ikemike, Special Adviser to the Governor on Government House Affairs, Youths, Transport and Logistics. They were arrested over allegations of contract inflation and other forms of corrupt enrichment. The week after the arrest, major documents that nailed Alamieyeseigha surfaced in the print media. They included a petition to the EFCC dated 13 July from O. Ogah and Co., an Abuja-based law firm. The documents also contained outrageous figures of lodgments in various banks by members of the Governor’s family.

Alamieyeseigha was arrested on Thursday 15 September, 2005 by the London Metropolitan Police at the Heathrow Airport on allegations of money laundering. He was handcuffed and driven immediately to his London home where £1 million cash was found. His problem was compounded with the discovery of more assets within the United Kingdom by Financial Investigative Officers. Aside the N250 million cash found on him, Alamieyeseigha is believed to have had about N2.6 billion worth of assets in London, including three houses, contravening Section 93c (1) (A) of the Criminal Justice Act of 1988[iv]. His  love for the Sunseeker, his official yacht formed part of the anecdotes of his excess. Whenever he was in Yenagoa, the State Capital, the yacht permanently berth on River Nun, popularized in one of Gabriel Okara’s poems. With the Sunseeker, Alamieyeseigha could crisis-cross the creeks and do sea reconnaissance ‘if he wished. As he faced two-count charge of money-laundering, the Governor was detained at the Brixton Prison, located in a neighbourhood with a considerable Nigerian population. D.S.P bail jumped and in account of the Network of Intelligence Submit, (NIS), arrived Nigeria in an executive private Jet, never disguising himself as a woman as popularly believed, but was evacuated from London with an arranged passport of another country[v].

 

Politics

When he was elected governor of Bayelsa State, Alamieyeseigha was taken to the tribunal by his opponent at the polls, Francis Lopogaha. A sponsor  to Lopogaha who was a banker detoured to help Alamieyeseigha  when his own mentee refused to yield to pacifying talks brokered by the elders. Through Banigo’s All States Bank, DSP secured a loan of 5m with which he pursued the legal battle at the tribunal. This singular favour he reciprocated by nominating Banigo as the singular Bayelsa State nominee to the post of a minister even when the party required governors to submit three names. Also, DSP got his Commissioner for Finance, Preye Ogriki from Banigo, a decision which he later lamented as his greatest undoing.

In Alamieyeseigha’s account, Banigo turned against him when he cancelled the contract of the state government with him for using poor quality materials in a construction work. As governor, DSP took a facility of N4 billion from All States Bank to liberalise cashflow for projects which was constrained to non-raining seasons. All the state’s  Federation  revenue account went straight to All States Bank which charged double COT for any transcations with other banks.  Information reached DSP that the bank had been the suspended from the Forex (Foreign Exchange) market. Judging it was risky for a state to have all its money in one place, DSP decided to bank with the Standard Trust Bank, a move objected to by Banigo who in same account, sued the government[vi].

 
[i] Tribune, July 27, 2007

[ii] TELL, December 11, 2006

[iii] Newsswatch August 10, 2009

[iv] The News, October 10, 2005

[v] NewsEnquiry, October 2006

[vi] Insider, February 3, 2003