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Alamieyeseigha Remanded in Prison

Alamieyeseigha Remanded in a UK Prison on money laundering charges



Alamieyeseigha Remanded in Prison

The drama surrounding the arrest of Bayelsa State
Governor Diep-reye Alamieyeseigha continued yesterday
morning at a London Magistrate Court where he was
formally arraigned on a three-count charge of money
laundering.

The case opened in the court where Alamieyeseigha was
brought in from custody led by a male and female
officers from the Specialist and Economic Crime Unit
of the London Metropolitan Police. He wore a light
blue stripe shirt under an overall navy blue sweater
and trousers. When the case was called, he stood up
and recognised himself.

When asked of his address, the governor asked if it
was his residence in Nigeria or the United Kingdom. He
said he lives in Government House, Yenagoa in Nigeria
and 247 Water Gardens in Paddington area of London. He
also said he was born on November 16, 1952.

The prosecutor representing the Crown Prosecution
Service thereafter stood up to read the charges after
describing the case as complicated. In the first
charge he said Alamieyeseigha committed a criminal act
of money laundering by being in possession of cash
totalling 920,000 in pounds and US dollars contrary
to the provision of Section 327 (1) of Proceeds of
Crime Act 2000. In the second charge he said 420,000
was found in Alamieyeseighas account; and in the
third charge, he said the governor transferred
475,000 to another account contrary to section 93
c(1) of the Criminal Justice Act of 1988.
The governor however pleaded not guilty to the charges
before the prosecutor opened his case.

The prosecutor narrated how Alamieyeseigha was
arrested on September 15 at the Heathrow Airport on
his way from Germany where he had undergone a cosmetic
surgery on his stomach (surgery to flatten a
protruding stomach known as tommy tuck).
The prosecutor said Alam-ieyeseigha was subsequently
questioned by officers from the Specialist and
Economic Crime Unit of the London Metropolitan Police.
According to the prosecutor, during the first
interview session, the governor was with his son. A
key was found with the son but he claimed it was for
his school locker. The key was, however, taken from
him by the police officers.

The prosecutor explained that when a search was
conducted in the governor's house in Paddington area
of London, cash totalling 920,000 in pounds sterling
and US dollars were found. He said the police then
took the governor to Ilford Police Station where he
was granted conditional bail while investigations
continued.

The prosecutor said the bail conditions granted
Alamieye-seigha required him to remain in his London
residence and not to travel as his travelling
documents were confiscated. He was also to report on a
daily basis at the Paddington Green Police Station
while investigations on his case continued.
He explained that the nature of the investigation
requires extensive findings in Nigeria with the Crown
Prosecution Service working in collaboration with the
Nigerian government. Part of the plan, the prosecutor
told the court, was to deploy officers from the
Scotland Yard to Nigeria for the purpose of concluding
investigations before prosecution would commence as
earlier planned on November 15. The officers from
Scotland Yard were scheduled to travel to Nigeria
October 8.

The Crown Prosecution Service, he said, wanted to
ensure that the investigations reached a threshold
before prosecution.

He added that a twist however occurred in the plan
when on Tuesday, the defence pre-emptively went to
court to challenge the bail conditions at the
Redbridge Magistrate Court in East London.
Given the circumstances under which the charges were
laid, he said the Crown Prosecution Service noticed
that the police made administrative error in the bail
conditions by not referring the matter to it for
advice before granting Alamieyeseigha bail.
The prosecutor explained that since the Crown did not
oppose the application made by Alamieyeseigha's
counsel at the Redbridge Magistrate Court, the case
was struck out and the governor was relieved of the
bail conditions.

He added that since the police were convinced they
have conducted extensive investigation, they decided
to re-arrest and arraign the governor on the
three-count charge in the first instance while
investigations continued.

He said depending on the progress made in the
investigations, other charges may be added later.
The prosecutor said having known that the defence will
apply for bail his team will oppose the bail
application for several reasons.

One of the reasons, he said, is the fear that
Alamieye-seigha will jump bail. He said when the
Bayelsa governor was re-arrested on Tuesday and his
house searched a fresh 100,000 was found while
another 5000 was found on him. And when questioned,
he said the governor asked the police officers who
conducted the search, what is 100,000?

The prosecutor said with that attitude, it was
obvious that if Alamieyeseigha is granted bail, he
will travel back to Nigeria and not return to London.
Another reason for opposing bail, he said, was
because Alamieyeseigha has the wherewithal to
influence the cause of justice.

An indication of this, he noted, was the fact that a
close associate of the governor had called Mallam Nuhu
Ribadu, the Chairman of Nigerias Econ-omic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and asked him to
come to London to get anything in the world he desires
if he would only assist.

he added that the governor has expensive lifestyle as
evidenced by two highly prized wrist watches found in
his house during the search. He also said
Alamieyeseigha has several companies which he uses
for business in London and which requires complex and
extensive investigation in Nigeria.

The prosecutor noted that Alamieyeseigha should not
be granted any bail since he does not enjoy any
immunity. For instance, he noted, the Governor
travelled to United Kingdom on his personal Nigerian
Passport not the Diplomatic Passport.
He also tendered a letter from the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office saying only Heads of States enjoy
immunity.

He therefore urged the court to order that
Alamieye-seigha be remanded in prison custody.
Alamieseigha was on September 15 arrested by officers
from the Specialist and Economic Crime Unit of the
London Metropolitan Police at London Heathrow on his
way from Germany where he had gone for surgery.
From the airport where he was arrested, he was led to
his London home in Water Gardens W2 for a search which
reportedly yielded the discovery of 1 million cash.

The governor claimed that his ordeal was masterminded
by his detractors back home in Abuja. But the British
High Commissioner to Nigeria Mr. Richard Grozney
said the arrest was the fallout of a request two years
ago by Nigeria seeking the assistance of the British
Government in the war against money laundering.
" The police will let matters take their course in
London. They (Alamieseighas supporters back home) can
be assured that the governor is under no special
persecution or anything like that. The Police
investigation that led to his questioning was
entirely routine and normal," he had said.


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