ThisDay Online (Nigeria): Security Beefed Up Around Shell, LNG Pipelines: “Following threats by some militant youth groups to blow up pipelines and other oil installations in the Niger Delta as a result of last Thursday's arrest of Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha in London for money laundering, government has increased security around oil facilities belonging to British Oil Company, Shell and LNG Nigeria Limited.”: Monday 19 Sept 2005
Alamieyeseigha not charged, says Bayelsa govt
From Chuks Okocha in Port Harcourt
Following threats by some militant youth groups to blow up pipelines and other oil installations in the Niger Delta as a result of last Thursday's arrest of Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha in London for money laundering, government has increased security around oil facilities belonging to British Oil Company, Shell and LNG Nigeria Limited.
But the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Information, Mr. Oronto Douglas at the weekend refuted claims that Alamieyeseigha has been charged before a court in London. He said the governor remains innocent until he is charged and proved guilty in a court.
A top management staff of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) told THISDAY on inquiry that the company called for increased security around its pipelines and other facilities because it could not afford to take chances.
“What we are doing is a precautionary measure. We cannot afford to take chances,” the source said.
When our reporter visited the locations of SPDC flow stations in Agbada 1 and Agbada 11, located within the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, an increased number of mobile policemen were seen.
Also a senior official of the NLNG who spoke to THISDAY said “we are managing the development in our own way. Though, the Ijaw Youths have not come to us, that is not to say that there won’t be any precautions on our side.”
But an Ijaw Group by name “Niger Delta Freedom Fighters” in a statement signed by its President, Mike Edonkumo threatened that its members would make the Niger Delta ungovernable.
The statement stated that “as a body, we will resist any attempt at dragging the name of our beloved governors to the mud”. The group stated that it would decide at appropriate time when to destroy oil installations and destabilise the economic base of the nation, since they have not benefitted anything from the crude oil coming from their back yard.
The Ijaw militant body also called on the National Assembly to scrap both the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) as, according to them, they are championing the personal agenda of President Olusegun Obasa-njo, by witch-hunting perceived enemies.
Also, the Supreme Egbesu Assembly, the umbrella body of all Izons has called on the British Police to carry out an impartial investigation of the Alamieyeseigha case for the sake of justice and fair play.
In an interview with newsmen in Port Harcourt, Chairman of the Supreme Egbesu Assembly (SEA) Sergeant Werinipre Noel Digifa said “all we are saying at this moment is that the British Police should conduct a full impartial investigation in line with our code of conduct of justice and fair play. We believe in justice. If the Governor breached the British laws, let him face the music and its full implications. But if after the investigation, he is found not wanting, let him be set free. This is our position".
“If he is found wanting, our appeal is that the money in question should be sent back to us in Bayelsa State, because it is our money”, he said.
On the initial position by the Bayelsa State Commi-ssioner for Information that the governor was never arrested, he said “Oronto has lied to the Izon nation. He has betrayed the Izons by his utterances. He should resign and apologise over the lies he is dishing out to the Izons that the governor is not under any arrest.”
Also, some Human and Pro Democracy groups based in Niger Delta area in various statements in Port Harcourt stated that the move by the London Police is the only way to tackle corruption headlong in Nigeria.
In its statement titled “Diepreye Alamiseyesigha: The Evidence We Need” and signed by the Chairman of the Niger Delta Civil Society Coalition Anyakwee Nsim-omou and another statement by the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, the human rights activities called on the EFCC and ICPC to commence investigations into all financial dealings of the Governor, especially the N1.7 Billion contract allegedly awarded to some fictiticious companies in the Niger Delta University (NDU) project.
According to the statement from the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in a statement titled “Probe Alamieyesigha Now”, the coalition stated that, “By divine intervention, Governor Diepreye Alamie-yesgha was arrested after £1 million was found in his possession. For most Nigerians, it may all rest on the £1 million found in his house alone. But we are further troubled that his London home is valued at another £2 million".
“These are facts that should give the EFCC greater strength and vigour in effecting total and complete investigation into the activities of those earlier invited among the Governor’s aides and those yet to be invited", the group stated.
It also said the Governor must not escape probe in Nigeria.
“We are of the firm believe that “what touches one touches all. The urgent need to extend this probe to all the Niger Delta Governors cannot be ignored. Alamiese-yesigha is not alone in this ugly venture," the groups stated.
However, Douglas in a statement in Yenagoa stated 'that the news report that Alamieyeseigha was charged in London was part of a campaign to smear the governor's person.
"Chief Alamieyeseigha was not charged before any court. So, the question of arraignment does not arise. This is a trite legal matter. "After he was picked by the British at Heathrow Airport, he was taken to Ilford Police Station where he was asked a few questions and subsequently released on bail on self recognition...Even the London Metropolitan Police has made it quite clear that this is an on-going investigation. It appears that the governor has already been tried and convicted by sections of the media," he stated.
The Commissioner added that Alamieyeseigha “is in high spirits... despite his poor health". He said the governor yesterday received three United Kingdom-based groups who paid him solidarity visit. The groups, according to him are the Ijaw Peoples Association of Great Britain and Ireland, Bayelsa union in the UK and Ijaw Students in the United Kingdom.
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