The sudden death of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa State, on Saturday, October 10, appears to have become a political issue as supporters of the late Alamieyeseigha, popularly called the president general of Ijaw nation accuse the ruling All Progressives Congress as being responsible
THE death of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa State, on Saturday, October 10, is no doubt a big loss to his family, state and the entire country. But it is also one that the Ijaw nation will not forget in a hurry and for which some Ijaws will want to hold the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, culpable.
Annkio Briggs, Niger Delta right activist, pointed an accusing finger at the ruling APC for Alamieyeseigha’s death. Briggs said the former governor died as a result of psychological torture and emotional stress he was subjected to following recent move by the British government to extradite him back to London to face corruption charges.
According to her, Alamieyeseigha’s death could be traced to plans to arrest him in Dubai where he was receiving treatment, so he hurriedly returned to Nigeria. Briggs said as soon as he came back, he was hounded by agencies of the federal government until he became ill.
“The federal government is gradually killing Ijaw people through orchestrated psychological torture. They have succeeded in killing Alamieyeseigha and they are presently hounding Diezani (Alison-Madueke, former petroleum minister), but they will not succeed. There are so many Nigerians that are corrupt; there are so many of them that have looted this nation dry and they are walking the streets free without any harassment. Alamieyeseigha was granted pardon by the federal government having lost almost all his property, yet they connived with British government to extradite him over an issue that has been settled,” she said.
Briggs’ stance is supported by Izon Brotherhood in the Diaspora, a socio-cultural organisation, which similarly accused the APC-led federal government of being responsible for the death of Alamieyeseigha. Pere Jones, spokesman of the brotherhood, in a statement from Germany, said the recent extradition notice by the United Kingdom, aggravated the health of the former governor and his subsequent death.
Jones lampooned the APC, whom he claimed, was behind the recent extradition notice that must have aggravated the health of the former Ijaw leader, who reportedly died of heart attack.
He also decried the alleged role of the APC, which reportedly influenced the inclusion of Alamieyeseigha’s name among those wanted by the UK government even after going through the whole legal hurdles of prosecution, conviction and later state pardon in Nigeria. He said: “Clearly, it’s a shame to all our Ijaw brothers who are in league with the APC, witch-hunting and working against their fellow Ijaw brothers and sisters, being singled out for alleged corruption charges. They should be ashamed of themselves. Frankly no Ijaw man worth his salt should have anything to do with APC. With what they have done to our dear leader, Alamieyesiegha, no right thinking son or daughter of Ijaw extraction should be seen associating with the APC. His death is really unfortunate.”
In September 2005, Alamieyeseigha was detained by the London Metropolitan Police on charges of money laundering. He had on July 26, 2007 pleaded guilty before a Nigerian court to six-count charges and was sentenced to two years on each charge, which ran concurrently. He was released the next day, just hours after being taken to prison, due to time already served.
However, a British law firm was hired by the federal government to help dispose of four expensive properties he had acquired in London in December 2009. On June 28, 2012, an asset forfeiture order on $401,931 in a Massachusetts brokerage fund traced to the late governor was executed by the United States Department of Justice.
He was impeached as Bayelsa State governor on allegations of corruption on December 9, 2005. First elected governor of the oil-rich state in 1999 on the platform of the then ruling PDP, he was re-elected in 2003 but failed to complete his second term when he was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in September 2005 for money laundering charges.
Born on November 16, 1952 in Amassoma, Ogboin North Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, Alamieyeseigha attended the Bishop Dimeari Grammar School, Yenagoa before joining the Nigerian Defence Academy as a cadet officer in 1974 and later the Nigerian Air Force, where he served in the department of Logistics and Supply. Here, he held various positions in Enugu, Makurdi, Kaduna and Ikeja before retiring as a Squadron Leader.
He later became the sole administrator of Pabod Supplies Port Harcourt and Head of Budget, Planning, Research and Development of the National Fertiliser Company, NAFCON, Onne.
Nevertheless, since the passing of Alamieyeseigha was announced on last Saturday, tributes s have been pouring in from some prominent Nigerians and groups commiserating with the family and the state.
In his reaction, former President Goodluck Jonathan, an Ijaw descent, expressed grief over the sudden death of his former boss under whom he served as deputy governor. Jonathan described Alamieyeseigha as a leader who was committed to the development of his state and his native Ijaw land.
In a message of condolence to the family of the deceased, the former president said: “Chief Alamieyeseigha was the first executive governor of Bayelsa State with whom I served as the Deputy Governor… I knew his vision for the advancement of Ijaw land and his commitment to the mainstreaming of his people into the national development and growth agenda. I pray that the Almighty God grants his soul eternal repose and provide his immediate family the fortitude to bear the sad loss,” he said.
Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State described the sudden death of Alamieyeseigha as a personal loss to him. The governor, in a press statement by Daniel Markson-Iworiso, his chief press secretary, said the late governor was a strong pillar of support to the restoration government in the state. He described his demise a very painful and monumental loss to the entire Ijaw nation, which he had always stood firm for in all its ramifications.
Dickson, on behalf of the state, also commiserated with Margaret, his wife, the immediate family and the entire people of the state, noting that the Ijaw nation had lost a rare gem.
In its condolence message to the family, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which Alamieyeseigha belonged, said it was shocked by the sudden death. The party in a statement signed by Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary of the party, said the death was deeply saddening.
The PDP noted his immense contributions and sacrifices towards the unity, stability and development of his state and the nation in general both as a military officer and a politician.
“Chief Alamieyeseigha was a true democrat; humble leader, brilliant administrator who had extraordinary love for his people. He was an outstanding party-man, who, despite his travails, remained loyal to the PDP at state and national levels to the very end. The PDP sincerely commiserates with Governor Seriake Dickson, the Alamieyeseigha family, the Ijaw kingdom and the people of Bayelsa state and pray God to give them the fortitude to bear this great loss.”
The All Progressives Congress, APC, similarly expressed shock at the sudden death of the former president-general of Ijaw nation and condoled with his family and friends. In a statement issued by Lai Mohammed, its national publicity secretary, the party said the death was shocking, considering that he was not publicly reported to have been gravely ill.
The party prayed that the family would find comfort in their moment of sadness, as well as the strength to bear the loss of their loved one. “May the soul of the departed also rest in perfect peace,” the party said.
— Oct 12, 2015 @ 18:45 GMT