Tongues are wagging among Nigeria’s chattering classes as the obituary announcement of the death of former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha has left out the usual burial tradition of lying in state, which would have given members of the public a chance to view the body of the former governor whose death was announced last year.
Now, if you are not Nigerian, you would be wondering why members of the public would be poking their noses at what is essentially a family matter. But the history of Alamieyeseigha, who was once arrested in Heathrow Airport, London for allegedly trying to smuggle in 1.8 million Pounds Sterling into Britain means that tongues will wag about whether Alams is truly dead, unless the public sees the former governor’s body in a lying-in-state.
Why do I say so? After his arrest and siezure of his passport, the governor managed to escape the tough and sophisticated British security system. He somehow managed to flee Britain and returned to his desk in the Nigerian state of Bayelsa as Governor.
How he managed such a feat is still unclear after all these years, but according to This Day, he was able to escape by disguising himself in womens clothes and jewelry.
After his arch enemy, former President Obasanjo instigated an impeachment tha stripped Alamieseigha of his immunity, he was rearrested by Nigerian authorities, and it was only during the presidency of his kinsman Goodluck Jonathan that he was granted a controversial amnesty.
But with the arrival to the presidency of current President Muhamadu Buhari, who was a fierce opponent of Goodluck Jonathan, British authorities suddenly announced that they would be seeking extradition of Alamieyeseigha back to Britain to face the charges he had escaped all these years. Soon after that announcement, Nigerians woke up to the news that Alamieyeseigha had died.
Since then, his body has not been seen, dead or alive. Not a few Nigerians believe that with the way the former Governor managed to fool British authorities and escape their country, he may still be alive. In fact, a popular conspiracy theory is that the man is on some luxury Caribbean island, enjoying the good life.
Meanwhile, the legal implications of his death are that he has once more eluded the hands of the sophisticated British authorities.
However a reverse conspiracy theory is that the British themselves are the ones that aided Alamieyeseigha’s escape from their country, because they do not want to be dragged into internal Nigeria’s internal political squabbles.
While this theory may seem a bit farfetched, the British have done something similar in the past. Remember the way the British allowed Napoleon to escape from Elba. In fact, Napoleon escaped from the prison island in the full glare of British spyglasses, and the British have a way of turning a blind eye to obvious beaches when it suits them (apologies to Admiral Nelson).
Anyway, let’s just see what comes out of this, as time has a way of revealing things that were once hidden.