By Paulinus Aidoghie
The United Kingdom has said that it has not given up on its efforts to extradite former Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, back to Britain to face trial, the Sun Newspaper is reporting today.
The UK said it had already contacted the Federal Government requesting Mr. Alamieyeseigha’s extradition, and was awaiting a response to the request.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Pocock, told the paper in an exclusive interview that the former governor, who recently got state pardon from his criminal conviction in Nigeria, still has an outstanding case of money laundering to answer to in the UK and that the UK government will not give up until Mr. Alamieyeseigha is brought to justice.
Mr. Alamieyeseigha, then a serving governor, made a dramatic escape from the custody of the British authorities when he fled back to Nigeria from detention in September 2005. He would later be convicted on similar money laundering charges on July 26, 2007 in Nigeria after he was impeached as governor.
Although his recent state pardon by President Goodluck Jonathan hit the UK authorities as a rude shock, Mr. Pocock dismissed insinuations that London was planning to sanction Nigeria over the matter. According to him, “that is not the way we do things”.
The High Commissioner also revealed that UK had earlier requested for Alamieyeseigha’s extradition, but did not get any response.
Mr. Pocock said the UK had asked the Attorney General and Minister for Justice for Alamieyeseigha’s extradition and was still awaiting his position on the issue when President Goodluck Jonathan all of a sudden announced he has been extricated of all wrong doing via the state clemency.
The move to pardon him even when the application for his extradition to Britain was still pending was like daring the applying nation that feels strongly that Alamieyeseigha has a case to answer in their country.
According to Mr. Pocock, “The former governor skipped bail in the UK on a charge of money laundering and returned to Nigeria. So, he has an outstanding charge in the UK, which is there for him to answer.
“We have already discussed it and the Nigerian government knows our views. But we would like to see him return and answer charge in the UK.”
On UK’s past and present efforts to see that Alamieyeseigha is extradited to the UK, Mr. Pocock said: “Yes. I think we asked in the past. I am very sure we asked in the past. But I am not sure we got a formal response. So, we are still waiting for a formal response from the Nigerian government.
“We have asked the Attorney General. He will have to tell us what his position is on extradition. I haven’t had a reply yet, but we still wait for it,” the British envoy added.
SOURCE: The Sun