How Obasanjo, Ribadu dealt with me, My pains, my regrets, by Alamieyeseigha [Vanguard Interviews]

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VANGUARD

How Obasanjo, Ribadu dealt with me, by DSP Alamieyeseigha (1)

Interview Jun 28, 2009

By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor

DSP to Obasanjo: `MY LOYALTY TO YOU WILL END ON MAY 29, 2007, WHETHER ATIKU BECOMES PRESIDENT OR NOT’ – August 18, 2005

You needed to have seen Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, the former governor of Bayelsa State. In this very first tell-all interview with Sunday Vanguard, Alamieyeseigha discloses some disturbing truths about former President Olusegun Obasanjo and what actually led to his travails. Sober but not condescending, Alamieyeseigha admitted that mistakes may have been made but that they were made on the platform of expediency.

He admits that he may not have been a perfect person but was quick to add that persecution was merely his lot for speaking his mind. Some of his traducers, he maintains, have come to apologise to him. In this multi-part interview which started by 2:02 pm and ended at about 6:20 pm, last Wednesday, Alamieyeseigha made revelations.

A man with whom Obasanjo shares a history dating back to 1976, Alamieyeseigha says “I am at peace with myself today”. This is just a snippet, the least interesting part of the interview but chronology takes precedence hence the need to present the interview in the order it was conducted. The other parts would be run in following weeks and readers would be at liberty to make up their minds on how Nigeria was governed in the heady days of matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo.

Excerpts:

What have you been doing in the last four years?

(He looks up, shakes his head and begins) It has been a journey of life; four years after leaving office

Frankly speaking, I’m at peace with my family. I now have all the time to stay with them and give moral backing.

DSP Alamieyeseigha

Apart from the paraphernalia of office, sirens, clearing the road, I’ve not seen anything spectacular in governance than the life I’m living now. I even have more persons, coming to me for one advice and counseling than when I was a governor. I’m being seen in the Niger Delta region as a godfather and people from all walks of life come to me for one form of assistance or the other. Indeed, the masterminds of my travails in the 2005 episode, most of them have come to beg me publicly and privately to forgive them and I’ve since forgiven them. I’m not an arrogant person so I’m not losing anything. I am down to earth and still doing what I used to do. There is nothing new in life that I was enjoying then that I am not enjoying today.
So, directly answering your question, I’ve always been contented with what I have.

That people can see you now, could that not be a function of the absence of the protocols?

Not necessarily so. When I was a governor, my government was people oriented; I did things that directly impacted my people. My people had access to me and people were never really shut out. Go and interview people on the streets of Bayelsa and ask them: Who was Alamieyeseigha? From 1999 to 2005 when I left office, my administration embarked on a number of people_oriented projects.

What specifically do you do now?

Since I left office I have not done any serious form of business or contract but I am surviving.

Well Nigerians are surviving too but yours would be of a different kind?
Yes surviving, surviving with my family, having time for them, asking: What do we have today, how are we going to utilize it.

But I must confess, being alive today is to the glory of God Almighty and it is only me who can tell the story of my survival so when I say I am surviving, I know what it means. It was not envisaged that I would survive. It was a grand design but today we thank God almighty, more than any other thing, that I am alive.

What actually happened?

To be precise, on the 18th of August 2005, that day happened to be Council of State meeting and we were all in Abuja for the meeting. I got a call from Nuhu Ribadu, chairman of EFCC, that `sir, go and reconcile with Obasanjo, he has directed that you and James Ibori, by all means should be roped in for corruption and disgraced out of office; that he believed that James Ibori had gone to reconcile and that I should also go quickly that he was a public servant, he carried out orders. I told him that I had done nothing wrong, that we were on good working terms.

However, after the Council of State meeting, I went to him and told him that I wanted to see him and he even joked that “your friend, Stella”, was not in town – that was around 7:30/8:00 pm.

Solomon Lar and his wife were there; they had lost a son so the wife came from Holland and was about going back, so it was a farewell visit of sort.
When he came out he wanted to see me I said no, please see Chief Solomon Lar first, which he did and they left. He then called me into his inner office.

As we entered, he did not even allow me to sit down, he said `DSP, you and Atiku want to take my job, you and Atiku want to take my job’. I then asked him, `what job’?

He said Atiku had come to tell him that I was going to run with him as Vice Presidential candidate. And I told him to the best of my knowledge that Atiku had not told me that I was going to run with him. I asked him, what are you trying to imply? He charged back `I am not leaving in 2007, a military man like you, instead of you to work with me, you’re supporting a bloody civilian.
I said, `Mr. President, are you now saying that in 2007, you are not going to leave?’

He said `Yes’.

I asked, `how are you going to do it, the constitution is very clear, you are serving your second term and at the end of this tenure, you should gracefully leave for others.

He said no, I am going to continue, `am I the oldest president in Africa’?
I said `Mr. President, can I say something?
He said `Yes, go ahead’.
I said `you will leave’.

You told him that?

Yes, I told him and he asked how?

I said `I bet on my life, you will leave. My loyalty to you will end on May 29, 2007, whether Atiku becomes President or not. I reminded him if he had forgotten that we all agreed in 1998 that you were only to run for four years – two years to stabilize the nation and another two years to launder our image abroad while Atiku would understudy you and take over when you leave.
I reminded him that in 2003, you were almost gone you were kneeling down, begging people, including myself. I was the only governor that got you back to power. I even threatened my other colleagues of what I was capable of doing if you were not allowed to continue. There is something in leadership and style that the North recognizes that we from the South do not. Not that I love Obasanjo more than my colleagues, I told them, but that they must allow Obasanjo to complete his two terms.

What did your colleagues from the North say?

Not just the North, there were some of my colleagues from the south who were there at the meeting too. I even told them that if Obasanjo was not allowed to complete his two terms, there would be no war in this country that we would not draw blood, but that we would all sit down and agree on how to negotiate and go our separate ways. I went that far to protect your job, because of that patriotic feeling that this nation belongs to all of us, that anybody can aspire.

In that meeting, I even confronted the chairman of the party, Audu Ogbeh. I asked who nominated him to be chairman of the party – it was Obasanjo. Every governor was in support of Gemade but for the fact that it was Obasanjo that nominated Ogbeh, we then reasoned that if we did not support Ogbeh, at the end of the day, the President, as the leader of the party would not fund the party and this would not be good. Indeed, Atiku summoned us many times, to accept Audu Ogbeh and I, Alamieyeseigha was the chairman of the convention that brought Ogbeh to power. I even asked Ogbeh whether he did not come to my lodge to beg me for support and that today, he is saying that Obasanjo was not marketable, that if you Ogbeh were marketable, would you have come to beg me for support. I did all that for Obasanjo.

You reminded him that night?

Yes, I reminded him of all that. I said `Mr. President, I think some of us in this country have to tell you the truth. I don’t think you have any new ideas after eight years in power to generate to better the lives of Nigerians. You would have run out of ideas.

`Two, Mr. President, you are one of the richest people we know in Africa and beyond.

`Three, you have made a name for yourself both in Nigeria and beyond, so what else do you want?

`Four, Mr. President, if nobody has told you, you are no longer a young man.
`I said Mr. President, all your children are grown up and are educated so what else do you want? I will suggest to you that you should relinquish power based on the constitutional provisions.

What was his response to all these?

He shouted at me, that `I will throw you out of my house’.
I said Mr. President, with due respect, this is not your house; so many people have passed through this place; you did not construct the place and I’m sure you know our language “Soldier Go, Soldier Come, Barracks Remain”. I am from Bayelsa State, the core state of the Niger Delta, that this house was built with my money.

I reminded him that I am more educated.

As you said all these he kept quiet?

Of course, he was not comfortable but he had to listen. Nigerians do not know Obasanjo; Obasanjo is a coward but Nigerians do not know. When he’s in a corner, he is a coward. If you hear Obasanjo shouting, he has people around him but if he is alone, please forget it.

We heard that you and Obasanjo have a very long history in the military?

Yes! In 1976, when the Air Force was to become autonomous, I received the regimental colours from Obasanjo. In 1979, I commanded the Air Force parade

Would you then blame him for his expectation of total support from you?

I don’t blame him but this was about Nigeria and not Obasanjo;

you mean after eight years?

Was Nigeria made for him?

So, let’s go back to that night in the Villa?

After I said all these he piped down but made it clear that it was only over his dead body that Atiku would be president of Nigeria. I told him that he was not God and I reminded him that he was sentenced to death and it was converted to 25 years in prison, 15 years, and he served three and a half years, people cleaned you up and you became the president. I asked him if he would not fear that type of God. Out of over 140 million people, you were favoured by that God. From 1979, the nation waited for you and in 1999, you became president and you’re still not grateful to God. I quoted Jeremiah chapter 13 for him, what God said he would do to ungrateful people.

Then I said Mr. President, you have done so many things in this country that I know of and for which you should be reminded. And he shouted, `what are those things, what are those things’?

Okay, what are those things?

I said `if you want me to remind you I will remind you’. And he said `say it, say it’.

I said in `1966, Mr. President, what happened?

In 1969, when the command structure of the armed forces was to be changed, when Adekunle was to be removed as GOC Third Marine Commando, and you were commanding Rear Garrison in Ibadan and Colonel Alabi was persuaded to speak to you to accept, when finally you became the GOC, what did you do to Colonel Alabi? If not for the late General Hassan Katsina, Colonel Alabi would have been a dead man you know that. In 1976, Mr. President, what happened to Murtala Mohammed – can you tell me what you knew about what happened? Mr. President, when Murtala Mohammed was purging the Armed Forces and the civil service for corruption, what was your own case and what role did Allison Ayida play in saving your neck and what did you do when eventually you became the president – Ayida was your first casualty. In 1979, Mr. President, when you were about to hand over power, truly what happened during that election between Awolowo and Shagari. I’m cutting all these things because I don’t want to go into details.

I said Mr. President when your military regime was to be probed you went to Joseph Wayas in the night, what did you do to him and how was a letter issued to you that you would not be probed? I said Mr. President, what happened and what did MKO Abiola do to you (all the letters you wrote, I was Special Adviser to Chukwumerije then as Minister, I was privileged to read them); what did the man do to you that you hated him with so much passion – somebody from your own state. Mr. President, you even projected yourself to be interim president. I said, Mr. President, did Abacha put you in jail wrongly? I said Mr. President, with all what General Abdulsalam Abubakar did for you, when you took over office, me and you know what and what you’ve done to that man, this is very current. He asked and shouted `what have I done to him, what have I done to him’?

I told him to let me just cite one: I reminded him that we were in the Council of State meeting and message came that his house was burning in Abuja here. He had to obtain permission, by the time he got there, the house was burnt to the ground – as I’m speaking to you have you one day asked about that incident?

All these made him very quiet.

I said Mr. President, what happened to Bola Ige, what happened to Dikibo, what happened to Marshall Harry?

I promise you that I was going to take you to the International Court of Justice for the destruction of Odi and I will do it.

Wait a minute. Was this a case of you discovering that you had crossed the Rubicon and there was no need pretending or a spirit came over you because talking to your president like that, in all honesty was crossing the line?

Yes!

Yes what? That you didn’t care any more or that you became possessed?

Yes I didn’t bother because he had threatened me that he would demonstrate to me that he wasn’t only Mr. President but that he would show me that he was also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. That was his opening statement: `I will show you that I’m not only Mr. President but that I am also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, by the time I finish with you, you will know who you are’.

That angered me and it was an opportunity for me to empty what was bothering me once and for all because the same security forces were used to burn my lodge in Yenegoa. You won’t believe that I travelled and by the time I came back, they had gained entry into my house and they repainted my house and planted plastic explosives. As I entered the bombs started exploding and the whole building came down. That was in 2001.

But that was before you and Obasanjo had your problems?

Yes! I even went to him because I know, I am an ex-military man and I can pin point where it was coming from. I called bomb disposal people who came and established that they were bombs. So I came to Abuja and went straight to Mr. President who claimed that `I don’t know anything about it’, that the IG, Tafa Balogun would set up a high powered investigation team to look into it and I told him I did not want any investigation. I just made it clear that such should never be repeated, that if it happened I would fight back and if I fought back I may not know when to stop. It’s on record.

But there’s this story that you kept having altercations with him during meetings and that you were always confrontational – was that one of the occasions?

We were always having altercations.

So, how did the meeting of that night end?

Ha! It got to a time when the Director General of the SSS, Colonel Are, got worried and he came in and said, `Mr. President, you and your son today, what is the problem?’

Obasanjo told him that `this DSP na bad pickin, I will deal with him’.
It was so bad at a point that his children told him to leave DSP alone. His children Gboyega and Olu told him.

To cut everything short, he said he was going to let me be if I left Atiku; that `when I’m convinced that you are no longer with Atiku, I will leave you’
All these happened on August 18?

Yes and at that point, I left.

Some days later I was travelling to Germany for an operation. I wanted to follow British Airways, BA, I had BA ticket, I got to the airport, I changed my mind. Instead of going by BA, I bought Emirates and went to Dubai. It was later I got to know that there was something else awaiting me if I had flown BA. I got to know this through cross examination that why did I not fly BA which I had always flown for the past 30 years.

Lord Michaels of the British House of Lords came to my house in London and revealed to me the plans they had.

In fact, they’d gone further to America, that as long as I remained governor of Bayelsa State, the free flow of oil could not be guaranteed. America had said that by the year 2015, 25% of its energy requirement would come from the Gulf of Guinea and if there was such a powerful man who would disrupt this, according to the story they sold to them, he should be contained. So there were combined forces against me. My brother, my neighbour, in the Niger Delta was a local coordinator to assassinate me.

So how did your flying Emirate lead to your arrest?

From Dubai, I went to London, spent two days and went to Germany for my operations.

(Take a look at this: He flips his buba up and shows the denture of his protuberance, cut at an angle of almost 90% inwards some three inches before his navel) This is what people say that I went for tummy tuck, can you see the mark? Is this tummy tuck?

What was actually the problem then?

I had so many complications, respiratory and all that.

When I came out of the hospital, when I gained consciousness from the anesthesia, the first person I called was Obasanjo; that was my undoing. I told him I’ve just come out of operation and this was September 15. Immediately after, I started receiving funny texts.

Why did you call him?

I called him to tell him that the operation was successful and that I just regained consciousness and that once the stitches were removed I would come home. He even wished me quick recovery. He even told me his wife had just had eye surgery too and had just returned, that he was traveling to Spain, that he was going to tell his wife to call me – because I was relatively close to the wife.

When the texts and calls were coming in, I did not read the signs. I was alone in Germany and I just sent for my two children who were studying in London to come and keep me company. They came and we were there for three four days and on the day they removed the stitches, I said let me go back to London with these children because they had to go back to school. I flew business my children flew economy, but once the plane took off and became stabilized, they upgraded my children to business – how did they know that those were my children, I don’t know; this was BA.

Immediately the aircraft landed and the doors were opened, the Metropolitan Police came in and asked for Alamieyeseigha and his children. I stood up and said I am Alamieyeseigha and these are my two children they said `you are under arrest’. Under arrest for what I asked and they said it was for money laundering.

How, I asked.

I asked them if they were aware that I was a serving governor from Nigeria, a sovereign country. They said they knew all that and they said they had to handcuff me and I was handcuffed in the aircraft and brought out but as we came out of the aircraft, I saw Nuhu Ribadu standing at a corner – he was there to identify me.

I asked them a question whether they could arrest any serving governor from the United States if he had committed an offence within their jurisdiction, they said no but that `your president said we should arrest you. I asked: `My President? They said wait.

Constable Peter Clark, a private police detective, put the phone on speaker and called my President, he answered.

He said, `Mr. President Sir, the subject is with us’.
You could hear my President shouting, `DSP, hold him, hold him, hold him’.

And Ribadu was there?

Ribadu was just a few metres away. He was on another phone calling the Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun, to send mobile policemen from Port Harcourt and Delta to Bayelsa State in case the people would react. It was very convincing so I stopped and I said okay, I am satisfied, but I started bleeding because that was the morning the stitches were removed. They searched us and took us through immigration. They searched me and my children, our luggage, nothing was found. They asked my children to go home.

Then they took me in their black maria to a police station close to the airport and transferred me to another vehicle and drove me close to my flat in London, 247 Water Gardens in Edge well road. I could see the building. We were inside the vehicle for about 45 minutes without coming down and then they took off and drove me outside London.

Continues next week


My pains, my regrets, by Alamieyeseigha (2)

Interview Jul 4, 2009
By JIDE AJANI, Deputy Editor

* The plan was that I should die in detention
* I am not an angel, he confesses
“I did 200 metres rope climbing to the top of a platform once. It was suicidal. When the boys heard that the Governor-General had arrived, they stopped what they were doing. How many have I not done? You don’t pay ransom – ransom for what? They released the hostages. What makes you think that you are more Niger Deltan than me?

My parents are from that region and you say you are fighting for my cause and I’m the Chief Executive of a state and I don’t know more than you, that is bullshit. They have derailed, criminality has set in. How can you kidnap my mother and you say you are fighting for the Ijaw cause,” charged Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, the former governor of Bayelsa State and the man Ijaws refer to as Governor General when Sunday Vanguard sought his views of on the issue the
militants, amnesty and the roles of some governors and prominent leaders in not just the Delta region but Nigeria in general.

When last Sunday we declared that Nigerians were in for an exciting time, little did we know that we were actually taking part in a very historical event. Calls have not ceased to come, just as views continue to be expressed regarding the nature, content and context of the Alamieyeseigha interview.

In this second part, Alamieyeseigha, who talked tough last week, tones down as he relieves his pains and regrets during his troubles with Obasanjo.

More interesting was his soberness when the issue of graft was discussed.

But that still did not stop him from making charges against Nuhu Ribadu and, you guessed right, Olusegun Obasanjo.

In terms of betrayals, ALAMS, as he is known in some quarters, discloses how a very close friend of his, a lawyer, prepared the impeachment notice which was used to remove him in a rather shambolic manner.

DID they see you bleeding or did you complain to them?

They saw it; they saw that I was soaked. They now took me to a police station and I was remanded in custody.

Were you kept in a cell or in an office?

This was in the cell till around 9pm from the morning when we arrived in London. By 9 pm, they came and brought my asset declaration forms. They asked me some questions, I answered to the best of my ability but at that point I told them that I needed to see a doctor. They did not listen to me. They eventually brought a doctor who insisted that they must take me to the hospital and that I needed my drugs. They brought my drugs from my bag.

Around 1am, they came with a form that I should sign. When I looked at it, they said they went to my house and they found money totaling one million pounds in different currencies and I told them I would not sign and I asked them why was I not taken to the house with them so I could verify the property list.

In any case, the form they brought was not signed by anybody. I refused to sign the form. They said if I didn’t sign, all well and good. The following day around 12 noon, they released me.

Had the blood stopped by then?

No, but it had clotted. They said I should be signing in the nearest police station every day and that I should not travel out for almost five months that I should just be there. When I asked them why, they said what was required to prosecute me would come from Nigeria and that the materials were not ready yet. They also said the Nigerian government said it would take it some five months to assemble the materials for my prosecution.

I came home and consulted my lawyer, Professor Odita, QC, SAN, a Nigerian. He went to vary the conditions of bail. We went there and we did not spend three minutes in court, when I was discharged and acquitted. As we came out of the court, people were already outside jubilating but once I came out, I was re-arrested and taken back to that same cell and this time around, they came up the following day with three charges:

One, that in 2000, 420, 000 pounds passed through me to a friend. Two, that in 2002, 475 pounds passed through me to an estate agent Three, approximately one million pounds was found in my house – that was on the day I was arrested. I was taken to court where my lawyer did not speak. I later got to understand that any black man that goes to that court would be convicted. They did not allow my lawyer to speak; I was remanded in prison custody. Within 15 days, I had been made an inmate of two different prisons. I was kept with mad people for 15 days.

Mad people how?

I mean people who are mad, insane

Again, it is interesting how mad people behave. Night is their day so you can never be allowed to sleep. Every piece of paper they see, to them, is cigarette – I’d never seen something like this before in my life. The second prison, I was kept with a murderer who kept coming in and out of prison. He went to protest that I should be removed because when that spirit comes into him, in less than three minutes, he could kill and that he was praying that after this term, he should be taken to a rehab.

In fact, when he discovered that I couldn’t climb the double bunk, he conceded his lower deck to me. He would normally prepare tea for me and if you see his body, wounds everywhere, smelling; I don’t know the spirit which got inside him but he it was who went to the supervisor and protested that he did not want to kill again, that he wanted to be left alone. That was why they sent me back to Brixton prison.

How about medication?

After the 15th day, I was getting medication from Nigerians.

They had a clinic in prison and one Nigerian nurse was the matron, an Igbo woman, she was sympathetic. So I was imprisoned for 15 days.

What was the most striking thing about the way the second court handled the case?

They didn’t allow my lawyer to speak, after the prosecution, judgment was pronounced by a lady.

The bail conditions were so stringent that anybody who attempted to bail me became a target. Terry Waya was one of them and all the problems he had later was because he addressed a press conference and because he said he had 500, 000 pounds, they confiscated his money and everybody became scared to bail me.

Eventually, people pledged their houses and the first person I called when I came out of prison was Obasanjo and he said `didn’t I tell you I will deal with you’. I called him the second time when Stella died, he was sober in that instance but the Obasanjo I know did not show any sign that he even lost somebody . My lawyers again went to court to seek my bail so I could come to Nigeria. Another judge, Evelyn, agreed, that this is an e! lected governor, and that if the prosecutor is not ready to prosecute, because `you claimed that all the materials you needed to do that were yet to come from Nigeria, you kept him here, how long are you going to keep him’? She decided that she would grant me bail and that any day they were ready with their case, I could come back from Nigeria to face prosecution.

She said she was going to grant me bail that my lawyer and the crown prosecution should go and work out the modalities. Everything was done, payments made, I had already obtained ticket to return to Nigeria, the morning my bail was to be pronounced, Bayo Ojo, former Attorney General and Minister of Justice appeared. We greeted, he said `Excellency, I’m just coming from Nigeria straight to the court here this morning, I was already in bed when Mr. President called me to tell me that you were going to be granted bail and that I should come and stop it’.

And Ojo went into the court and told the court that Nigeria did not need me; that I had a deputy who could handle my office; that I should be kept in London until my case was determined; that the government of Nigeria, under President Obasanjo, did not need me to come back home. Judge Evelyn was herself shocked.

She said that Nigeria was writing a new chapter in judicial matters, that in all her career as a judge, she had never seen a situation where a sovereign nation would go to another sovereign nation and say that its national should not be allowed to come home; that it used to be the other way; that when somebody commits an offence, they run away to another land, but this is a man you have said committed all the offences in this world, he wants to go back home and yet, you people are saying that we should help you keep him here in London. At that point one of their prosecution lawyers said what they were asking for was cooperation; that Nigeria is an ally and that Britain could not afford to have any confrontation with Nigeria and that if the only request was to keep him in Britain, in his house and not in prison, why not oblige. The judge kept quiet for a while and cancelled the application afterwards. I returned home but on the way, Bayo Ojo begged me, that he was on! ly doing his job.

How did you get back to Nigeria – as a pregnant woman or as a man?

The Metropolitan police was always visiting me at home everyday at their own time and they would search the house and anything they saw, they would carry. So after three days at home, they came again as usual and asked me to dress up, I dressed up and followed them.

I thought they were taking me to their police station but this time they passed through Nigeria House, and we went outside London to another airport – not Heathrow, not Gatwick – and they said I should enter an aircraft that was waiting and I asked them where I was being taken and they said just go and solve your problem at home, we no longer believe in your case. Since the day your justice minister came to this country, we’ve lost interest in your matter. I entered the aircraft, they flew me to Ivory Coast, they did not even shut down,

I alighted from the plane and they left.

Just like that?

Yes, just like that. I was a frustrated man and I couldn’t go through Immigration because I had no passport. I just walked into the arrival hall and sat on the floor because at that time I was really frustrated. I was there thinking of what to do when somebody tapped me on the back and I turned, it was Alhaji Yahaya, from Gombe.

How did he know you were there?

Was he a friend or was he waiting for you there?

No, I think I’d seen his face before but I couldn’t place it. He looked like one of the Nigerians I had stumbled on during the case because many people were pouring into my house in London during the case and many of them were very sympathetic.

Transacting business

Even the former vice President, Alex Ekwueme; Solomon Lar had to come from Holland. Many people were just coming around everyday from different parts. I remember seeing him otherwise he had never been to Bayelsa neither had he visited me here in Nigeria.

He tapped me and asked what I was doing there. The only thing I could also say was to ask him what he was doing there and he said he came to transact a business and was on his way back to Nigeria, that he had a private chartered jet. I asked if I could join him, he said yes.

Bu t how could somebody departing come in contact with somebody who had arrived? Were the security men not aware of your presence at the airport terminal?

The plane which brought me was a private jet and not the usual commercial plane. I didn’t walk into the immigration. I remember he gave those gendarmes $200 to allow me because he spotted me and came over to meet me.

I entered the plane with him and when we were about to take off, I saw one of the pilots. Apparently, I used to charter their plane back in Nigeria, so they knew me. We came, landed in Lagos and they offered that they were going to Abuja but that they could drop me in Port Harcourt. It was at that point in Lagos that I got a phone to call my ADC to meet me at the airport in Port Harcourt. We got to Port Harcourt airport late, they dropped me and we took off that night to Amasoma, ! my village, no escort, nothing. We just moved into my village.

The crowd that came when they heard that I had returned was something else; and this sent a positive or negative signal to Obasanjo whom I was told was in Sokoto. People came around to welcome me.

What was Obasanjo’s reaction?

He ordered soldiers and policemen into Bayelsa. 300 mobile policemen were drafted to Government House Yenagoa. Air Force helicopter was overflying my house. Meanwhile, he had ordered that they should deal with me in Amasoma and because of Obasanjo’s antecedents I had to flee to Yenagoa where I was driving out and driving in even in the presence of the security men.

How did your impeachment crystalise?

I’m aware, it was a Lagos lawyer (name withheld) who drafted the impeachment notice. He was a close friend of mine. He was the one who drafted my impeachment notice. He was the one who took the assembly men to Lagos. He was the one who took them to EFCC office in Lagos, himself, Larmode, Bello and Mangu.

The members were lined up one after the other. If you signed the impeachment notice, you would be let off. If you refused to sign, you were kept there – those who refused to initially sign were not allowed to go until they signed. They again bundled them, under escort, took them to Abuja in a plane.

About N18 million was paid from a Federal Government agency to settle their hotel accommodation. From there, under escort, they took them to Bayelsa to pronounce my impeachment. I was not served with any impeachment notice. I saw it on the pages of newspapers. I was not invited to defend the charges. I don’t think they even ever sat. One man wrote the report. They have been begging me. People have begged, the members of the panel, even their signatures were forged . I knew when they were going to do everything from Abuja to Bayelsa. For that operation they removed the commissioner of police and brought another person, the state director of SSS was also changed. They came to me. So many calls were coming in that I should react so that there would be a state of emergency.

Nobody arrested me. I called the commissioner of police after their so called impeachment. I was in Government House, my father and mother were there. I came out, told my parents to go back to Amasoma that I would come back. They escorted me from Yenagoa – combined effort of Rivers State Police Command, Bayelsa and Delta State commands, and helicopter was also flying over our heads.In Abuja, another helicopter was used to fly me to Police headquarters. I was there until December 13 and on December 14, 2005, around 12 midnight, led by Police Superintendent Mangu, I was taken to immigration in Abuja to do passport under escort. That is the passport I’m still using – to do passport at12 midnight.

Obasanjo had instructed that I must be flown back to London. They took my passport to the British High Commission for visa, those ones refused.

Why did they refuse?

They said the man committed the offences you’re talking about in Nigeria, that while I was in London, they waited endlessly for materials with which to prosecute me and nothing came, that the man is already here in Nigeria, that don’t we have laws to deal with him here in Nigeria. `We don’t want him’, they said. I was forced by Ribadu to write a letter, voluntarily saying I wanted to go back to London.

I wrote and gave to him, Femi Falana was there when I wrote that letter to Ribadu, he was an eye witness. The letter was taken to the High Commission. The people from the High Commission were invited to Police Headquarters. They were invited to the Villa, they tried to intimidate them to no avail. They refused to grant me visa. It was at that point when they had failed that they brought me to Lagos to begin my trial – before the activists started complaining. That was how I found my way into the EFCC prison in Lagos.

By this time, the operated area had become so bad; my stomach had become infected that I could no longer walk. They now took me to a hospital where they opened me up three times to drain all the infections. They again took me to another hospital where the management of the hospital turned down their diabolical plans and the hospital refused to do their bidding. By 5:30 in the morning, without the hospital authorities knowing, EFCC people again came to pick me up to Ibadan, UCH. On the way, two of the operatives inside the car sent me a note that sir, where you’re going, you’re going to be poisoned.

Of course we went to Ibadan. A woman who headed one of the departments there saved the situation. The woman had knowledge of what was to happen to me and she didn’t want to be part of it. So she came to the hospital very early that morning and created a scene. They returned me to the vehicle and brought me to Lagos and this time I wasn’t taken to the hospital but to their cell. Obasanjo now instructed that I should be brought to Abuja and straight to the National Hospital. Of course, the thinking was that the CMD and his own personal physician would do the magic. I don’t want to go into it. Again, it was properly managed and I did not die.

How long did you spend in the EFCC prison?

All together it was about two years

Would you not agree that certain things were done by you which gave the EFCC the opportunity to swoop on you? Or would you say you were pure and perfect or that you didn’t commit any offence?

There is nobody dead or alive that was a governor of a state and would say that everything you did was perfect or pure.

How can I claim to have been perfect or pure? That would be a lie. Every week, you are in the office things just happen that were never planned for. Look at this scenario: a lady walks into your office and she is in labour, she has no money to go to the hospital.

Would you say because of procedure, you will allow that woman to die? There are so many things that are unplanned for as a governor that will come your way. I am not saying that I’m an angel, no. But the questions to ask are: Was I treated fairly? Was the rule of law followed? What if I had died in the process? And all these started because one man called me into his office and said I should support him instead of another, and, thereafter threatened to deal with me.

But the EFCC said that they recovered the sum of N50billion from you?

That was what the EFCC chairman went to tell the Senate and because it was the issue at the moment, even the Senate did not ask questions. How much at that time, was used to float a bank, that somebody, in 2005 would have N50 billion. Was that money recovered in the banking system or was it packed in a warehouse? Now, where is the money? In which account and what is the interest rate?

Nigerians should ask questions? This is 2009, if indeed such an amount was recovered from me, is it not enough time for that type of money to be returned to the state government if indeed I stole the money? I did not work for the Federal Government of Nigeria; it’s supposed to be money belonging to Bayelsa State government. The people need money, N50 billion will at least give them good roads. Is it not time for the EFCC to return the N50 billion to the Bayelsa State government. Since that was the money Ribadu claimed to have recovered, let them go and bring it from where they kept it.

They said I have a refinery in Ecuador, I have never been to Ecuador all my life.

Is it not so easy to find out since we have an embassy there. Is it difficult to find out if a non-national can have that type of investment in another country, without knowing the identity? They also said I have a wrist watch that only me and the Sultan of Brunei have. In fact, one barrister kept hammering that I have a wrist watch worth N2.5million and that it was only two of us that have it. So, after the two wrist watches were manufactured, was it that the factory was closed down? Did I carry N2.5million to Switzerland or where it was manufactured (a place which I don’t know) to pay there and where is the wrist watch ?

How much did you receive as a state governor?

How much did I receive as a governor for six and a half years? I received N255billion. Go to Bayelsa State and audit whether the money was spent there.

What did you return to the EFCC?

Houses I had, I gave them. Let them bring out the money they said they have seen I don’t have money. They should search and say how much money they recovered from me. During my 2003 campaign, I realised N1.75billion from fund raising. The chairman of the fund raising was Major-General Jemibewon (rtd) and everything is on video, who and who gave what. But there was no opposition in Bayelsa then and so, I just spent over N200million. That was the whole money I spent on that election. I felt since my children were not on scholarship, I said let me send the money to them to take care of their school. It was about N1.75million.

Then in Nigeria, I had N105million too and they took all of that in one bank. That is the money they said I have stolen. What they (EFCC) did to that 1.75million was to break it into bits at different times and all those ones were the charges. The number one charge was Chelsea Hotel. The hotel was bought by the state government and it was budgeted for. None of the management members of the hotel knew me, I did not negotiate with any of them; it was state investment. We paid N1.5 billion and we said this is what is in the budget and we agreed. In 2006, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as governor then, paid the balance. How then did the hotel become my hotel? That was the number one charge. You can go to the streets of Yenagoa and interview people to ask them: Who was Alamieyeseigha? Anybody that was in Yenagoa between 1999 and 2005 will have something to say about me.

You were in Dubai at some point?

Yes. I was also taken to Dubai for treatment. 12 security men were guiding me when I was in Dubai receiving treatment. If I was going to the toilet, they would follow me.

How long did you stay there?

I was there for about two and a half months.

And the government was paying for all these?

In fact, I was responsible for my hotel accommodation. Sometimes, I would stay in the hospital some times I would go to my hotel room. Some governors came to visit me – Orji Kalu, James Ibori, Lucky Igbinedion, Bafarawa and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Now, Ribadu came to Dubai and generated a letter that I was planning to over throw the government of Nigeria from Dubai and that I was attending parties and all that; that the Dubai government was purported to have written that I was persona non grata and that I should be deported from Dubai immediately.

I was whisked away and brought to Nigeria. Two weeks after, Ribadu came to me and said `DSP, the level we have gone, I should accept plea bargain. It has been arranged, you will not spend one day in cell.’ Of course, I don’t want to mention names, higher powers also intervened. T! hey said to me `DSP, they will kill you the way you are going, if you stay there’. I was reminded of how the senior Yar’Adua died, I was reminded of how Abiola was killed and nothing has happened. They told me `we need you to be alive, whatever they want, give them and come out.’

So, my brother that was how it went.

When last did you speak to Obasanjo?

I saw him not too long ago on a flight. I was going to Dubai and he said he was on his way to Saudi Arabia. He was just behind me. I don’t know how it happened, but he was behind me.

Did you speak to him first or was it the other way round?

He came in and said `Ah, DSP’ and we greeted. He greeted me first and he asked me `where are you going to?’ I said I was going to Dubai and I also asked him `Where are you heading to, he said `I’m going to Saudi Arabia’.

Interest groups

I said `Mr President, are you not surprised that I am alive talking to you?’

What was his response?

He said `DSP, people who did nothing in this world, they killed them for just nothing’.

The Federal government is trying to package amnesty for the militants and as a leader in Niger Delta, what approach would you want the Federal government to take in solving the problems?

The problems by now would have been solved if not for selfish interest groups. When I came out of detention, I had useful discussions with Mr. President, one because he was my colleague. The interest groups you talk about are they the making of past governors or the past federal government or the present governments? It’s all round. Take bunkering for example, you see these boys that are bringing the big ships from other countries to the Niger Delta to take away our oil, do they have connection with military to bring ships to come and load oil? Who are those bringing those ships? We hear of all these shootings, when there is disagreement on how the proceeds are to be shared.&! nbsp; Even former military chiefs have vessels to do bunkering.

All this information are available before government. Kidnapping and abduction a new phenomenon. Whatever it is, they have derailed, it is criminality now. But some blame the governors for not taking action. They say how can a government be in place and the boys are operating in the creeks and the governors are helpless?

How can they say they are helpless? Was I not a governor before? Didn’t you hear once I was in London on official delegation of the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Obasanjo called me to return immediately; I did not even check in, I returned to Nigeria, I flew economy to get to Abuja, flew to Port Harcourt and took a helicopter straight to Brass; I went by boat to the high sea. I did 200metres rope climbing to the top of the platform. It was suicidal.

How did you do 200metres rope climbing? With this your frame?

Of course, what are you talking? I was a military man

I’had never taken that type of risk in my life.

But you were able to contain the situation?

Of course, I ordered immediate release of the hostage. When they heard that the governor-general had arrived, they stopped what they were doing. How many have I not done? You don’t pay ransom – ransom for what?

This is my country and I know the risks I have taken regarding this so called Niger Delta problem. Obasanjo himself knows

What makes you think that you are more Niger Deltan than me?

My parents are from that region and you say you are fighting for my cause and I’m the chief executive and I don’t know more than you, that is bullshit.

They have derailed, criminality has set in. How can you kidnap my mother and you say you are fighting for the Ijaw cause. They have gone beyond reason and it’s not acceptable.


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2 Responses to “How Obasanjo, Ribadu dealt with me, My pains, my regrets, by Alamieyeseigha [Vanguard Interviews]”

  1. Julie Sanusi-Williams says:

    I am surprised and disappointed that this common thief is provided thie medium to justify his behaviour.

  2. IME PIUS BENSON says:

    That was unfair for them, What happen when he was in the office, he did not say all this?

    I am grateful to read this from him,thank you for sending more to me through my E-mail

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