Bayelsa State governor will honour Mr. Alamieyeseigha, former governor of the state and Sani Abacha, former military dictator of Nigeria.
An ex-convict and former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, will be honoured by the state, current governor, Seriake Dickson, announced on Monday.
Mr. Alamieyeseigha, who has also been indicted of corrupt activities in England and the United States, will be honoured for his “commitment to the Ijaw struggle,” Mr. Dickson announced Monday morning, during his address to mark the 16th anniversary of the creation of the state.
Mr. Dickson, in the announcement, broadcast on the state’s local radio station, said an auditorium in the Ijaw National Congress, INC, secretariat, built by the state, will be named after Mr. Alamieyeseigha, the first civilian governor of the state.
A Global criminal
In July 2007, Mr. Alamieyeseigha pleaded guilty to a six- count corruption charge before a Nigerian court; and was sentenced to two years in prison on each count. He also forfeited many of his assets to the Federal Government which were subsequently returned to the Bayelsa State Government.
Before pleading guilty to the charges in Nigeria, the former governor jumped bail in the UK in December 2005 and absconded by allegedly disguising as a woman. Mr. Alamieyeseigha however denies he ever presented himself as a woman to evade arrest.
Mr. Alamieyeseigha was detained in London on charges of money laundering after the London Metropolitan Police found about N253 million in cash in his London home. Later the police found a total of N457 million in cash and bank accounts. He also had real estate in London worth N2.538 billion.
He is still wanted in the UK and could face prosecution if he ever ventures there again.
On June 28, the United States Department of Justice announced that it had seized $401,931 in asset traceable to Mr. Alamieyeseigha.
US prosecutors had filed court papers in April 2011 targeting a Massachusetts brokerage fund and a $600,000 Maryland home, which they said were proceeds of Mr. Alamieyeseigha’s corruption back home.
Despite Mr. Alamieyeseigha’s criminal past, the Bayelsa State Governor insists he is a “pillar” of the Ijaws; and would honour the former’s accomplishments with the INC building, which the former started as a governor.
Mr. Alamieyeseigha is also a close ally of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mr. Jonathan was selected by Mr. Alamieyeseigha as deputy governor to the latter in 1999, a position he held until Mr. Alamieyeseigha was impeached from office in 2005, after which Mr. Jonathan became governor.
Both men are still very close, with Mr. Alamieyeseigha playing an advisory role during Mr. Jonathan’s presidential election campaign in 2011.
It is not only an ex-convict that Bayelsa State would immortalize. The state will also immortalize Sani Abacha, a former dictator who has been indicted of looting Nigeria’s treasury and from whom several millions of dollar has been recovered.
Mr. Abacha died in office 1998 while trying to perpetuate himself in office.
Mr. Abacha, as head of State, announced the creation of Bayelsa in 2005.
To honour the former dictator for creating the state, the Bayelsa Governor announced he would name a planned 150-duplex housing estate after him.
Bayelsa state, in partnership with the INC, also named the main auditorium of the INC secretariat after the dictator.
A memorial tree would also be planted for the same purpose.
This decision to honour an ex-convict and a former dictator is not the first controversial decision Mr. Dickson would be taking in his less than one year in office.
Shortly after assuming office, the governor appointed the president’s wife, Patience Jonathan, as permanent secretary in the state. This drew the ire of citizens, criticizing the move as patronizing and a ploy to curry favours from the president.
The governor has also just returned on Sunday from a trip abroad to “woo foreign investors.”
The trip had fuelled speculations that he was away to seek treatment for an undisclosed ailment. The governor has, however, denied that he was ill.
The governor would also, for the first time since massive floods submerged some communities in the state, conduct an assessment of the affected communities.
He had earlier said the issue of flooding is not peculiar to Bayelsa State; but a global phenomenon caused mainly by global warming and other issues related to the environment.