The man who in his heydays was known as the Governor-General of the Ijaw Nation began a downward slide in fortune following the adversity that beset him in the wake of his impeachment as governor of Bayelsa State, an act that was widely believed to have been orchestrated by the then incumbent president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whose disdain for the giant Ijaw man was almost legendary.
Alamieyeseigha fell on hard times after he regained freedom and subsequently got presidential pardon during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Even though friends and associates always rallied round to provide him generous financial support, he always tended to be perennially broke, Sunday Sun learnt from a close associate. It was not clear whether he was being blackmailed by anybody for any reason.
Beyond his health challenges, Alamieyeseigha had to contend with other misfortunes. For instance, one of his sons died in 2014, while another suffered stroke in the United States after he discovered that his wife was engaged in an extra-marital affairs. Moreover, the marriage of his daughter broke down and ended in divorce.
Until his death, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was to face trial in the United Kingdom (UK) on charges bordering on money laundering.
The late former governor, who jumped bail and escaped from the United Kingdom and returned to Nigeria, was granted presidential pardon by former President Goodluck Jonathan, despite substantial allegations of corruption leveled against him.
However, he consistently refused to answer summons to stand trial in the UK in respect of the money laundering charges preferred against him.
Meanwhile the UK authorities remained determined to secure his repatriation to London.
The chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay was recently quoted to have said that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was prepared to assent to the request of the British government as the United Kingdom had every legal right to demand for the extradition of the former governor.
The stance of Sagay was not surprising as President Buhari has consistently declared its commitment to the fight against corruption, affirming that all corrupt government officials in the previous administration would be tried for corruption.
The sudden demise of the former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha may have finally put to rest to call for his trial following the controversial Presidential pardon granted to him by former President Goodluck Jonathan om March 12, 2013.
Alamieyeseigha who was detained in London on charges of money laundering in September 2005 was granted pardon by the Jonathan administration along side a former Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, the late Maj. Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua; former Bank of the North Managing Director, Mohammed Bulama; former Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya; former Minister of Works, the late Maj. Gen. Abdulkareem Adisa, Major Bello Magaji and Muhammad Biu.
The late Yar’Adua, Diya and the late Adisa were convicted for their alleged involvement in the phantom coup against the then Head of State, the late General Sani Abacha in 1995. While Yar’Adua died in prison in December 1997, Adisa died following an accident several years after he was released from detention.
However, of all the beneficiaries of the state pardon, the inclusion of the former Bayelsa State governor, however, attracted public criticisms with many hinging their position on the argument that such move could further encourage corruption.
In September, 2015, Metropolitan Police arrested and detained the former governor after he was found with a cash of about £1m in his London home. Another £1.8m ($3.2m) belonging to him in cash and bank accounts was equally discovered.
In addition to this, the former governor was discovered to own real estate in London worth an alleged £10 million. All the discoveries were made at a time his state’s monthly federal allocation since he became governor in 1991 was calculated to be in the region of £32 million. Alamieyeseigha however, jumped bail in December 2005 from the United Kingdom by allegedly disguising himself as a woman, a claim Alamieyeseigha had since debunked.
On July 26, 2007, Alamieyeseigha pleaded guilty before a Nigerian court to six charges and was sentenced to two years in prison on each charge; however, because the sentences were set to run concurrently and the time was counted from the point of his arrest nearly two years before the sentences, his actual sentence was relatively short. Many of his assets were ordered to be forfeited to the Bayelsa state government. According to Alamieyeseigha, he only pleaded guilty due to his age and would have fought the charges had he been younger. On July 27, just hours after being taken to prison, he was released due to time already served.
In December 2009, the federal government hired a British law firm to help dispose of four expensive properties acquired by Alamieyeseigha in London. Alamieyeseigha had bought one of these properties for £1,750,000.00 in July 2003, paying in cash. Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha used it as his London residence, and as the registered office of Solomon and Peters Inc.
On June 28, 2012, the United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that it had executed an asset forfeiture order on $401,931 in a Massachusetts brokerage fund, traceable to Alamieyeseigha. US prosecutors filed court papers in April 2011 targeting the Massachusetts brokerage fund and a $600,000 Maryland home, which they alleged were the proceeds of corruption. A motion for default judgment and civil forfeiture was granted by a Massachusetts federal district judge in early June 2012. The forfeiture order was the first to be made under the DoJ’s fledgling Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
Ijaw nation mourns
The Ijaw nation has been thrown into mourning following the death of the first civilian governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Mrs. Margaret Alamieyeseigha who is just recovering from the death of one of their sons, Oyoms in October 2014 has been hit with the death of her husband.
Family sources said the way his health took a turn for the worse threw them into panic because it was believed that his kidney related ailment treatment had been successful.
One of his personal staff said they became afraid when he had to be rushed to Port Harcourt, accompanied by his wife.
His wife, two of his stepchildren and two of his children and some relatives were with him in the hospital when he was placed on life support.
One of his cousins, Chief Abel Ebifemowei who was one of those called when doctors confirmed his death said the family would issue a formal statement today after a family meeting. -The Sun