Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Nigerian Government silent on British request to extradite Alamieyeseigha

By Nnenna Ibeh, Premium Times, April 3, 2013

The government, while quiet on Britain’s request, focuses on defending the presidential pardon.
The Nigerian Government has declined to comment on the British Government’s request to extradite the former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alaimieyeseigha, who was recently granted state pardon by President Goodluck Jonathan in a show of his presidential powers.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Pacock, last week, revealed to Sun Newspapers that the United Kingdom had requested for an extradition of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who jumped bail in the U.K. and eloped to Nigeria allegedly disguised as a female.
The former Bayelsa Governor was arrested in the U.K. in September 2005 for money laundering. He later jumped bail and fled to Nigeria.
The U.K. authorities seized $1.5 million (N225 million) cash stashed in his London home as well as $2.7 million (N405 million) held in bank accounts at Royal Bank of Scotland PLC and Santolina Investment Corporation. His London real estate valued at $15 million (N2.25 billion) was also seized by U.K. authorities.
The British Government has now made it clear that despite the pardon granted by President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Alamieyeseigha would still be tried for corruption whenever he steps into the U.K.
“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 U.K.” Mr. Pacock said
“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.
Adoke, Maku keep mum
The Attorney General’s office would not comment on whether Nigeria would agree to extradite the ex-governor.
Ambrose Momoh, the spokesperson of the Attorney General, Mohammed Adoke, said the latter embarked on a trip and is “the only person,” that can respond toPREMIUM TIMES enquiry.
The spokesperson to the Nigerian Government and Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, would also not comment on the British application. Mr. Maku’s spokesperson, Joseph Mutah, directed PREMIUM TIMES to the Foreign Affairs Ministry on the matter.
“You know issues like this are a government to government kind of thing, so I’ll advice you speak to the foreign Affairs people, they’ll be in a better position to give you the right information you need.” Mr. Mutah said.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry would, however, not comment on PREMIUM TIMES enquiry. When PREMIUM TIMES spoke to a spokesperson of the Foreign Affairs Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, she asked for a text message of our enquiry.
The spokesperson is yet to reply to enquiry and refused to return our calls since then.
Lawyers condemn silence
Lawyers have, however, condemned the Federal Government’s stance of not responding to the British request, saying Nigeria has an obligation to.
A Lagos based lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, described the Federal Government’s inaction as unfortunate especially since Nigeria and the U.K. have mutual legal treaties on such matters.
“The request must be responded to by a responsible government. Once a government voluntarily enters into an international treaty agreement, that government will be deemed to have intended to carry out its obligations under the agreement,” he said.
“The earlier the Nigerian Government responds or reacts to the request, one way or the other, in a responsible manner, the better,” Mr. Ogunye added, saying the Nigerian government must respond, irrespective of who was the president when the request was made as government is a continuum.
Another lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, said the Mutual Legal Agreement Treaty between Nigeria and the U.K. means Nigeria is expected to respond positively to the British request.
“If Nigerian Government is unwilling to assist the British Government, it will send a clear signal to the British Government and the whole world that Nigeria is not serious to fight corruption,” Mr. Aturu said.
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