Former Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha
Bayelsa State, South-South Nigeria, has become the beneficiary of a windfall, following the decision of the United States Government to return $954,000 (about N435,978,457) stolen by former Governor Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha to the State Government through the Federal Government.
US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard announced the development at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to her, the official salary of the former Governor during his tenure as a public servant from 1999 to his impeachment in 2005 did not match the said amount.
“However, during that time, he accumulated millions of dollars through abuse of office, money laundering,” she said.
President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly immediately directed that the returned sum of $954,000 be deployed in developing the healthcare of Bayelsa.
Analysts, however, have questioned the propriety or otherwise of the authority of the President’s directive on what specific project a federating unit of the nation must deploy its rightful funds to.
They contend that the Bayelsa State Government could have more pressing needs for the princely sum of almost half a billion Naira repatriated Alamieyeseigha loot that surpasses the President’s proclamation on it.
Alamieyeseigha was elected as Governor of Bayelsa State in May 1999 as a member of the then emergent ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He was re-elected in 2003.
Alamieyeseigha was impeached on allegations of corruption on December 9, 2005.
Alamieyeseigha was detained in London on charges of money laundering in September 2005.
At the time of his arrest, the Metropolitan Police found about £1 million in cash in his London home.
Later, the Police found a total of £1.8 millio ($3.2 million) in cash and bank accounts.
He was found to own four homes in London worth an alleged £10 million.
Bayelsa State’s monthly Federal Allocation for the last six years then had been in the order of £32 million.
He jumped bail in December 2005 from the United Kingdom by allegedly disguising himself as a woman, though Alamieyeseigha denies this claim.
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, 2007, just hours after being taken to prison, he was released due to time already served.
In April 2009, Alamieyeseigha pledged a donation of N3,000,000 naira to the Akassa Development Foundation.
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 those 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 home in Rockville, Maryland, which they alleged were the proceeds of corruption.
A motion for default judgement and civil forfeiture had been granted by a Massachusetts Federal District Judge in early June 2012.
The forfeiture order was the first to be made under the DoJ’s then fledgling Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
On March 12, 2013, Alamieyeseigha was pardoned by then President Goodluck Jonathan, but his pardoning was criticised by many.
Instructively, Jonathan had been Alamieyeseigha’s running mate on his two successful gubernatorial elections runs, serving as Deputy Governor, and replacing his principal as the Bayelsa State helmsman, following his impeachment.
Alamieyeseigha was reported to have died of cardiac arrest at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital on October 10, 2015.
However, in a later interview, then Bayelsa State Information Commissioner, Esueme Kikile, revealed that the former Governor “died of complications arising from high blood pressure and diabetes which affected his kidney.”
Alamieyeseigha, a retired officer of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), popularly known by his initials DSP, was 62 when he died.
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