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Alamieyeseigha leaves prison for UK home

Posted by From Tunde Oyedoyin on 2005/10/13 | Views: 2613 |

Alamieyeseigha leaves prison for UK home

ABOUT 48 hours after he was granted bail, Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha yesterday at exactly 4.30 p.m. walked out of the Brixton Prison in the United Kingdom (UK) a free man.

ABOUT 48 hours after he was granted bail, Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha yesterday at exactly 4.30 p.m. walked out of the Brixton Prison in the United Kingdom (UK) a free man.

The governor, who is facing money-laundering charges in the UK, had on Tuesday received the nod of the Southwark Crown Court for bail on six conditions, one of which was to deposit 500,000 as security by his surety. The delay in getting the sum had resulted in the two extra days in the prison.

He was yesterday linked with a United States home, bought by a company named Solomon and Peters Ltd.

A large entourage of well-wishers, family and close associates were on hand to receive Alamieyeseigha yesterday as he finally bid farewell to inmates at the prison.

Back home in Nigeria, the Bayelsa State's Information Commissioner, Oronto Douglas, expressed the people's joy at the freedom and disclosed that the governor was in high spirit yesterday.

The governor's supporters and a member of his legal team started arriving at the Bow Street Magistrate's Court as early as 9.00 a.m. A few minutes before 11.00 a.m., the bail bond of 500,000 had been paid and the entourage departed happily from the venue, knowing that his freedom had finally been secured.

When The Guardian contacted his solicitor, Mr Tayo Arowojolu, outside the court premises, he gave a brief smile and said: "All is done. He should be released by now."

But things did not happen that fast. The governor's entourage had to endure more than three hours of waiting before the formalities were completed. One of the reasons for the long delay was that the inmates were having lunch between 1.00 p.m. and 2.00 p.m., and the governor had to have his "Last Supper" with them. This delayed the paperwork, but it was not going to be forever.

At 2.20 p.m., a prison official told The Guardian: "We're just waiting for the reception to come and take his records." The moment of freedom finally came at 3.40 p.m., when the governor said goodbye to other inmates. He was subsequently driven to his house where other well-wishers were gathered.

Bayelsa State Liaison Officer in Abuja, Nathan Egba, told The Guardian that the governor was "very excited and happy to see everyone. He was shaking hands with people, querying: 'So, you're here?'"

Despite the bail, the governor may not be able to leave the UK. He has also been ordered to report to a police station on a daily basis. Among the other four conditions attached to his bail is that he must not be seen within three miles of any port, sea or air and must live and sleep each night at an address known to the court.

Alamieyeseigha, according to the bail terms, must not leave the jurisdiction or apply for any travel documents. Arowojolu had earlier disclosed that the governor would contest the condition once Alamieyeseigha was out of prison.

The court stated that the governor is at liberty to apply to vary any of the conditions in relation to residence and travel.

Alamieyeseigha was, however, also yesterday linked to a questionable house acquisition in the United States. The house is in the neighbourhood of the Potomac, Maryland home of Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu.

The Bayelsa State governor's house is located on 504 Pleasant Drive, Rockville, Maryland. It is valued at $900,000.00 but considered modest, judging from the homes of other well-heeled Nigerian political leaders.

Alamieyeseigha's house, according to reports, was bought in the name of a company, Solomon & Peters Ltd., on January 16, 2003. The governor's middle names are Solomon and Peters.

Solomon & Peters Ltd owns Alamieyeseigha's house on Edgeware Road, London. It is registered in the British Virgin Island and is managed by a British citizen, Dein Jones.

One of the governor's children, Oyindoubra, has also been linked with the acquisition of choice property abroad. Oyindoubra, who is said to be a fresh graduate, relocated to Nigeria in July 2005 to take care of 'family business', according to sources.

Before leaving the U.S., it was further learnt, Oyindoubra sold her house on 15859, Aurora Crescent Drive in Whittier, California for about $1.7 million.

"The five-bedroom, five-bath mansion occupies a land area of about 5,378 square metres. It was purportedly sold to one Nadeen Adeela," the source said.

Douglas, who described the governor's experience as "painful" and the detention "unwarranted", said: "He is eternally grateful to God for seeing him through this difficult phase of his political career."

He added: "Governor Alamieyeseigha is also grateful to the Ijaw nation, well-meaning Bayelsans and true friends and patriots who stood by him in the time of need."

The commissioner, in a statement yesterday, stated further: "As the Governor returns to his London home, the process to secure his travel documents and pave the way for his return to Nigeria commences. He urges the Ijaw nation and Bayelsans to remain calm and law-abiding as he is certain of his innocence and his eventual triumph through the due processes of the law and the goodwill of well-meaning people both at home and abroad."

Alamieyeseigha was on September 15 arrested by officers from the Specialist and Economic Crime Unit of the London Metropolitan Police at London Heathrow on his way from Germany where he had gone for surgery. From the airport where he was arrested, he was led to his London home in Water Gardens W2 for a search, which reportedly yielded the discovery of 1 million cash.

He was released on bail, confined to a specific address and his travelling papers impounded.

When Redbridge Magistrate's Court voided the bail conditions on September 27, Alamieyeseigha was re-arrested and a fresh 100,000 found in his London residence.

He was thereafter arraigned on a three-count charge of money laundering totalling 1.8 million.

The magistrate agreed with the prosecutor that Alamieyeseigha would not return to London if released on bail and consequently remanded him in prison.

The governor's camp had been able to raise the entire 500,000 bail security demanded by the court on Wednesday but it came only at the last minute. Alamieyeseigha had to spend another night in the prison.

A source later told The Guardian that the delay was caused by a London-based socialite who had promised to provide the entire bail bid but later said he could only raise 250,000.

An estate agent then offered to raise the remaining 250,000 but the socialite later said he could not afford more than 200,000, urging the other surety to provide the balance of 300,000.

The estate agent refused, saying he was told of only 250,000. The President of the Ijaw National Congress (IJC), Professor Kimse Okoko, thereafter urged one lady to get the outstanding 50,000. By the time she returned with the money, the court officials had closed for the day.

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