Diepreye 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 reports 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.