The death of Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyesiegha didn’t come within the range of vision of any prognosticator. But as soon as news broke that it had happened, a spontaneous epidemic of inquest broke out too. It seemed that a segment of his kinsmen, friends and allies, had been primed to make an instant whodunit hay out of his expiration.
It’s shameful to acknowledge but this coterie of unlikely mourners have been less hesitant to distil tears as they have been desperate to corroborate one anothers’ accusation that Alams was killed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
We can sample a few of the loathsome vitriol…
Izon Brotherhood in the Diaspora, a socio-cultural association, said Alams was a casualty of partisan witchhunt. The APC masterminded the recent extradition request which must have aggravated Alams’ ill health.
The group’s spokesman, one Pere Jones, said, ‘’Clearly, it’s a shame to all our Ijaw brothers who are in league with the APC, witchhunting 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, Alamieyesiehga, no right thinking son or daughter of Ijaw extraction should be seen associating with APC…”
This statement must be understood in the right context.
Bayelsa is gearing up for a governorship elections scheduled to hold in December 2015. The APC is mounting a formidable challenge to the re-election bid of Governor Seriaki Dickson of the PDP. A series of defections of some of PDP heavyweights to APC has left PDP vulnerable and beatable.
Alams, the first elected governor of Bayelsa state, and prominent supporter of Governor Dickson, popular among his admirers, was billed to play a decisive role in the campigns. He had, only a few weeks, hosted a meeting of PDP bigwigs in his countryhome where he was reported to have boasted that APC had zero chance of upstaging PDP.
His death, close the D-day, was a blow. But the PDP sympathizers would not resign to fate. They figured they could rig their human loss into an electoral victory by accusing APC of blood-guiltiness.
Of course, they are positive that if they saturated the air with the allegation, the gullible would buy it and feel averse to rewarding a murderous party with their votes.
Another group also reinforced the proposition that Alams’ death was forced. The Ijaw Heritage and Cultural Club –a socio-cultural group turned predictor of deathday –said he died earlier than his due date.
In a statement signed on its behalf by one “Professor’’ Julius Eteli, the society averred that, “from available reports, the Bayelsa State Government has always been of assistance to him, taking care of his medical bills and upkeep. The question is: how can a man who returned from Dubai having been attended to by experts die so suddenly? Clearly, it must have been the report of his extradition to the UK that must have triggered his health condition for the worse and the sudden death.’’
In the imagining of this group and its deluded ‘’professor’’, a treatment in Dubai proofs you against relapse. And it comes with a warranty. It insures you against dying ‘’so suddenly’’.
Enter Ayo Fayose!
The incumbent Governor of Ekiti State is neither reputable for possessing common sense nor manifesting capacity for reflection but he also hastened to weigh in.
He said, ‘’Obviously, the Federal Government was behind the plot to extradite Alamieyesiegha to the United Kingdom to face fresh trial, a situation that made him abandon his medical treatment in Dubai.
‘’Even though I am not against anti-corruption fight, it is painful that in the present day Nigeria, political vendetta is being allowed to override the sovereignty of the country, such that the Presidency was eager to release a citizen of Nigeria that had been tried, convicted and later pardoned in accordance with the laws of the country.
Having been tried and convicted eight years ago, served his sentence and forfeited properties to the Bayelsa State Government; methinks Alamieyesiegha should have been allowed to live his life without unnecessary political intimidation and harassment…’’
The very allegations of the blamers give away their authors as either unwise or deliberately callous.
First, the Federal Government was silent on the extradition request made by the UK up the time Alams was reported dead. The immediate past British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassor Andrew Pocock, himself mentioned that Britain was still awaiting the reaction of the Nigerian state to the request. So how could a response that had not been given, a non-existent reply at the material time, possibly have had a lethal effect on Alams?
Second, they blame Buhari for the very that the British made the request! They say he failed to preempt the British request. He should have served them an advance NO and averted the physical manifestation of the request of our former colonizers.
The foolishness of this illogic is so apparent it is almost nudist!
Thirdly, the blamers are mad at the rationale of extradition request itself. They allege that Alams have been punished for his theft in Nigeria and that he had also been granted state pardon for his conviction. Thus, the British extradition request is unjustified. After all, the money Alams stashed away in UK belonged to Bayelsa and Nigeria. The Nigerian state has long sanctified and beatified Alams; therefore, the British have no business resurrecting the charges of fraud and money laundering against him..
The truth they would not concede is that Alams, until the time of his death, had a subsisting criminal case to clear with the British judicial system. While he robbed his ‘’swift to forgive and forget’’ people of Bayelsa and Nigeria, he committed the crime of housing the stolen goods in the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom.
He jumped bail and escape trial in September 2005. But the case remained alive. Its validity was not vitiated or nullified by the pardon granted him by the Nigerian government.
And even after the British renewed its request –which they first forwarded to the administration of Alams’ protege, President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013 –Alams had the means to incommode diplomacy with a local legal challenge.
He could have instructed his lawyers to approach the court and pray for an interlocutory injunction restraining Nigeria from shipping him off to Britain pending the determination of the preemptory suit challenging the power of the Nigerian state to extradite him.
This is exactly what the recently election tribunal-sacked ‘’Senator’’, Buruji Kasahamu, the drug baron who is fugitive from American judicial system, did.
When the United States of America sent Nigeria a request for Kashamu’s extradition, the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency besieged his Lagos home and tried to arrest him. He rushed his lawyers to court and procured a reprieve. He has been walking free ever since.
Contrary to Fayose’s claim, Buhari did not ‘’hound’’Alams. No Nigerian security agency threatened Alams or trailed him. The police did not keep vigil outside the gate of his residence.
Besides, Buhari is not responsible for Alams’ decision to abandon his medical treatment in Dubai. Alams returned to Nigeria because he feared that the United Arab Emirates might yank him off the sick bed and courier him to the British like his friend and collaborator, ex-Governor James Ibori, who is a jailbird in London.
Now, back to Fayose…
I am amazed that he has the compunction to blame his head of state for Alams death. He finds Buhari guilty of murdering Alams because he fancied that Buhari was ’’eager’’ to have Alams extradited to the UK.
Fayose was the least qualified person to flirt with any sort of attribution. The closest he should have come is issuing a modest condolence message and an elegy. His finger-pointing only serves to reflect back his own negative recent history.
Just a couple of months ago, Fayose was wishing Candidate Buhari dead and spinning off the most ghoulish newspaper adverts ever from his diabolical mind. Fayose was not only demonstrably “eager’’ to see Buhari dead, he invested his money in the publicizing the dream. He wanted the world to know how badly he wanted to be Buhari’s undertaker!
He could have procured Buhari’s death for any price if it was some can on the shelf of a provision store.
Buhari is still alive in spite of Fayose’s morbid exertions. Fayose’s death wish had the impact of a poor joke on his target.
Yet it is the same Fayose who is today trying to cast Buhari as a one ghoul of a”wish murderer”.
I had earlier predicted that some of Alams’ lovers are likely to squander the chance to turn his death into a positive learning experience. I am sadly being proved right.
Instead of seizing this moment of bereavement to confront their own perishablilty –an exercise that is sure to inspire them to rethink their philosophy of life –they are making a circus around an imaginary scapegoat.
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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