A former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Thursday, lost the sum of N60million ($401,931) to the United States Government following a court ruling.
Mr. Alamieyeseigha lost the money when the US Department of Justice (DoJ) executed a forfeiture order granted by a federal district judge in the state of Massachusetts.
The court granted the motion when US prosecutors established that the money, which was kept by Mr. Alamieyeseigha at a Massachusetts brokerage fund, was obtained through corrupt means by the former governor, who led oil-rich Bayelsa state from 1999 to 2005.
Mr. Alamieyesigha was convicted of corruption in Nigeria in 2007 and sentenced to two years in prison. He also forfeited several property, which were subsequently returned to the Bayelsa state government.
The Wall Street Journal quoted Assistant Attorney General, Lanny Breuer, as saying that “with a declared income of less than $250,000, Mr. Alamieyeseigha accumulated millions of dollars worth of property over a six-year period.”
“Today’s announcement – the first forfeiture judgment obtained under our Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative – sends a powerful message about the United States’ commitment to rooting out corruption far and wide,” Mr. Breuer said in a press statement.
Alamieyeseigha to lose home
The troubles for the former governor in the United States is however not over as the DoJ plans to get the court to grant another forfeiture order on a N90 million ($600,000) house Mr. Alamieyesigha bought in the state of Maryland.
US prosecutors had on April 2011 filed court papers demanding a forfeiture of the house as they suspect it was also bought using corruption funds by the former Governor. The ruling on the house has not been given.
The justice department has however indicated willingness to return the forfeited money to Nigeria.
“Where appropriate [the Justice Department will] return those proceeds to benefit those harmed,” Mr. Breuer said.
Despite his conviction for corruption, Mr. Alamieyesigha remains a top member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and a close associate of President Goodluck Jonathan, who took over from him as Bayelsa State governor in 2005.