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What Alamieyeseigha told me 4 years ago!

Tonnie Iredia

The main breaking news of Saturday October 10, 2015 was the death of a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Solomon Peters Alamieyeseigha, more popularly known as DSP and Governor General of the Ijaw nation. One week later, how he died has remained unknown as several claims counter each other on the subject.

What appears to be generally believed across the nation is one account which imagines that DSP died because of fresh attempts to get him extradited to the United Kingdom to answer subsisting corruption charges. It was alleged that as soon as he heard of the extradition story, he fell into coma which led to his death.

Alamieyeseigha
Alamieyeseigha

Had the request for his extradition being formally made? It would appear that Ijaw youths think so following a claim by the umbrella body of Ijaw youths, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Worldwide, that the British government’s request for the extradition of the late Alamieyeseigha to the UK to face alleged money laundering charges was politically motivated. The IYC claimed that although the “suspicious” request was coming from the UK, the action was politically motivated and instigated by the Buhari-led administration while the UK was being used as a subterfuge. The group, in a statement issued by its spokesman, Eric Omare, also condemned what it called the immediate justification by the head of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Committee, Prof. Itse Sagay as a betrayal of the government’s clandestine plan to arrest and jail Alamieyeseigha over his open criticism of the present administration.

A group of Ijaws in the Diaspora said in Germany that “the extradition notice smacks of high level conspiracy contrived by some powerful elements in the All Progressives Congress (APC) government who are out to destroy the Ijaw nation.” If the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not as a party buy the extradition issue, some of its leading members did. One of them, Ayo Fayose, Governor of Ekiti State openly suggested that the APC-led Federal Government had “finally succeeded in hounding an Ijaw leader to death just because of his staunch stance on the upcoming Bayelsa State governorship election.

Has the extradition request been made? If so, when? Has the Federal Government acceded to it? No one seems to have a substantive view on the subject; rather it has merely followed the rumour loving stance in our clime in which a thought which appears plausible is taken as gospel truth-a trend that is often unwise to follow. This writer recalls a story a friend of his swore about concerning a former Nigerian Minister, Chief Sunday who allegedly slumped and died on the spot as soon he was arrested on corruption charges related to the national identity card scam. When i told my friend of a report i read that Afolabi died of cancer in London in May 2004, he just said “oh; really?

So, does anyone really know how the former Governor Alamieyeseigha died? Again the stories have remained in the realm of guess work. One version said he died few hours before he could be flown abroad for further treatment by government. Another story credited to the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information, Esueme Kikile said Alamieyeseigha “died of complications arising from high blood pressure and diabetes which affected his kidney,” Where did the death occur? Some reports suggest it happened at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital. Indeed, Ebitimi Angbare, a political loyalist of the deceased confirmed to the media that the former governor had been having a running battle with diabetes and high blood pressure for some time and “suddenly developed complications and went into coma on Friday.”

The Leadership newspaper however gathered that the Bayelsa State Deputy Governor John Jonah had activated a plan to fly DSP overseas for further treatment before he died adding that the same Jonah reportedly visited DSP and also spoke on phone with him “on Friday at about 8.15pm” contrary to claims that the man was in coma for two days. But when The Guardian newspaper visited UPTH, it gathered that when the former governor slumped, he passed away before he could be rushed to the hospital.

Whatever anyone chooses to believe, it is indisputable that DSP was virtually worshipped by his kith and Kin. As Senator Ben Bruce who represents the Bayelsa East Senatorial district noted in his condolence message, DSP was a “worthy son of the Ijaw nation.” This is also corroborated by the state government’s arrangements to give the late Ijaw leader a befitting burial. According to Governor Seriake Dickson, “the government will stand shoulder to shoulder with the family to give him a heroic burial.  “We‘ve lost the greatest, biggest supporter and leader.” The Governor then set up a committee comprising 20 persons to plan the burial arrangements with Deputy Governor John Jonah as chairman the Speaker Konbowei Benson of the state House of Assembly, as vice chairman, and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Edmund Alison-Oguru, as secretary.

Alamieyeseigha reportedly jumped bail in December 2005 from the United Kingdom by allegedly disguising himself as a woman. Although he consistently denied the disguise story until his death, no one ever believed the man.  In this age of technology, what cannot happen?

As a person, my perception of the late DSP changed in 2011 when I sat by him on a flight from Lagos to Abuja. He said he would want me as “a veteran investigative journalist” to find out if his travails were not due to his selection by Abubakar Atiku as his Vice Presidential candidate in 2003.  He asked me to also find out from Nuhu Ribadu if as Chairman of the EFCC, he didn’t have a government brief to virtually frame-up corruption charges against DSP. His last request was for me to ask legislators who were blackmailed to impeach him if any of them believed in the impeachment. For former Governor James Ibori serving a jail term in Britain, to consider it expedient to issue a statement the other week that Alamieyeseigha was a victim of high-powered conspiracy, perhaps the story is worth investigating.

 


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