OBITUARY: Wife Critically ill, Son Killed In Dubai…The Sad End of Alamieyeseigha

imageDiepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, the first elected governor of Bayelsa state, did not die a happy man. He suffered multiple tragedies in his last days on earth and, on Saturday, went to his grave abruptly, apparently with a broken heart.

In October 2014, the man once known as the “governor-general of the Ijaw nation” flew to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to retrieve the corpse of Oyamieyifa, one of his sons who died under controversial circumstances. No father wants to bury his child, and not even under such a cloud.

Tonbra, his other son, broke up with his wife of seven months, Chikodi Stella Ononiwu, early 2015 in controversial circumstances after a dream wedding which was the talk of the town. That might have been of little worry to Alamieyeseigha, who had to also watch his wife, Margret, suffer so much pain as a result of bad health.

TheCable also understands that she is currently undergoing treatment for a life-threatening ailment.

And in a most dramatic twist of fate, the British government recently requested his extradition to face trial for alleged money laundering, according to reports.

In September 2005, the UK’s Metropolitan police had detained him after finding about £1 million cash on him, and another £1.8 million in cash and accounts. He was subsequently charged with money laundering but he jumped bail after allegedly disguising as a woman, an allegation he denied.

A family source told TheCable about how the former governor received the news of the plans to extradite him to the UK.

“He was devastated over the plans to take him back to UK for trials. He told family members that he has suffered enough of the judicial processes and humiliation,” the source said.

A few days later, he fell into a coma. He never recovered. He died on Saturday from cardiac arrest at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, the Bayelsa state government said.

Alamieyeseigha, a retired air force officer, used to enjoy a cult-like status among his people and his travails in the UK did not deny him of that. Loyalty is rare to find in the Nigerian political terrain but DSP, as his supporters called him, got that even from Goodluck Jonathan, his two-time deputy who would later become vice-president and president of Nigeria.

Unlike the average politician who would capitalise on the misfortune of his superior to launch himself into power, Jonathan stood by Alamieyeseigha until he was impeached on December 9, 2005.

In a chat with journalists shortly after he took over the reins of government in Bayelsa, Jonathan said: “You all know how I have been loyal to him from the beginning until this sad event made me succeed him.”

In his last known interview before he died, Alamieyeseigha commented on what made him choose Jonathan as a partner.

“I wanted a deputy governor who had high level of intelligence and stable character like Jonathan,” he told Vanguard.

“I also needed an establishment person and somebody who was not too ambitious that if I was out, he could stand in for me and could run the state. I needed somebody, who would not attempt to cause trouble if I travelled out of the state so that I could sleep well.”

And that was exactly what Jonathan did.

In July, 2007, Alamieyeseigha was sentenced to two years in prison and many of his assets were ordered to be forfeited to the Bayelsa state government.

He was discovered to have owned real estate in London worth £10 million. In December 2009, the federal government hired a British law firm to help dispose of four expensive property acquired by Alamieyeseigha in London.

In 2012, the US Department of Justice announced that it had executed an asset forfeiture order on $401,931 in a Massachusetts brokerage fund, traceable to Alamieyeseigha. The allegations of corruption against him were mind-boggling, arousing fury when Jonathan as president of the country, pardoned him in March 2013.

Obasanjo Alamieyeseigha believed former President Olusegun Obasanjo masterminded his trial and ruined him politically because he opposed Obasanjo’s rumoured third term agenda.

He spoke on his encounters with the former president, saying he had forgiven him.

He said: “I cannot be living in the past because it does not help. It pains quite well but again, if it was not permitted by God, it would not have happened. And for me to be alive, I thank God. Sometimes when I reflect on where I am coming from, I even at times ask why I am still alive, having passed through what I have passed through. It reminds me of Psalm 23, somebody passing through the valley of the shadow of death. I passed through it several times. For me to be alive, I do not need to have anything in mind,”

“I have been at a very close quarters with Obasanjo twice. The first encounter was at the Katsina Airport during the wedding of the daughter of late President Yar’Adua. I did not even know that he was in the VIP lounge. I wanted to use the rest room and here was Obasanjo directly sitting inside. I was even scared because he almost passed out.

“I held his hand and he said DSP what have I done to deserve a handshake from you? There were other people; Kenny Martins and one of his political friends present. I said I was shaking him for two reasons. One was because of the Almighty God who created us. Number two is that tradition demands that we should welcome our visitors. Then Kenny got up and said, great leader, great leader and he came to hug me.

“The second encounter was when I was going to Dubai and if Obasanjo had known that I was in that aircraft, he would not have entered but I was already seated. We were very few in the aircraft. Because of fear, Obasanjo saw me and hysterically called me ‘Fayose, Fayose’ and I told him that I was not ‘Fayose.’ I said former president, Olusegun Matheew Kikiola Aremu Obasanjo, you are a devil incarnate. I said when we were small, our lesson teachers always talked about this devil and this devil and I never knew that the devil is a human being. I told him that you are a direct descendant of the devil. I told him that if you talk, I will throw you out of this aircraft.

“I knew of truth that he did not sleep throughout the flight. The only thing he said was DSP, is it only you that entered prison. I too entered prison. He said you entered prison and I entered prison. He kept quiet and I left. But I have forgiven him.”

One of those who would suffer from the demise of the ex-governor is Governor Seriake Dickson, who is standing for another election, in less than two months.

The deceased was actively involved in the re-election campaign of Dickson.

Responding to the news of the death, Dickson described Alamieyeseigha “a rare gem”, saying his demise “is a very painful and monumental loss to the entire Ijaw nation, which he has always stood firm for in all its ramifications”.

Alamieyeseigha, born on November 16, 1952, was governor of Bayelsa state from May 29, 1999 to December 9, 2005 when he was impeached.

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