Money Laundering and Public Accountability

by E. Terfa Ula-Lisa Esq

The picture unfolding in London is akin to a beehive disturbed. The City of London has always been a favorite place of first contact abroad of most Nigerians. The students, politicians, cabinet ministers, governors and their lackeys love London, wet, dreary, cold and all. It has long been a refuge of stolen funds for a long time. Houses, prestigious estates, and all kinds of properties have been shopped and bought of Nigerian politicians. Clapham, Piccadilly, Liverpool Street Market and Brixton are favorite places.

London, it was that a haughty sharp-tongued politician was crated and packaged for delivery back to Nigeria before he was rescued. London it was that Governor Dariye was reportedly arrested and granted bail for money laundering. Currently, London plays host to Governor-General Alams who was arrested and his travel documents confiscated to prevent him from fleeing before his arraignment on November 16. But in a truly dramatic fashion, the lawyers got an order from the court declaring the police without authority to prescribe conditions for bail.

Illegal Arrest?

A spokesman of Bayelsa State Government, Mr Preye Wariowei acting chief press secretary to the governor is reported to have said that it was a slap on the sovereignty of Nigeria for the governor to be denied consular services, and deplored misleading reports on the governor’s travails in London. He says “For over a week now, especially since September 15, 2005, we have been battling with a terrible crisis to the effect that the State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeigha, was unlawfully arrested by the London Metropolitan Police and interrogated on allegations of money laundering.” What a pity indeed if those were the facts. Why would the police who are normally friendly in London just pick on one person out of a crowd, arrest him and search his home in London? Not only would the police be violating his person, they would also be violating his castle. But if the search is as a result of a tip-off that proceeds of a crime are about to be laundered in London and the police physically found on the suspect, a reasonable person, cash of up to a million pounds, then there may be raised eye-brows. The police may then ask what the person’s profession is. The governor of a state is accorded some respect. So what brings the governor to London? To recuperate from a surgery in Germany. Does the good governor live in London? Yes, he had bought a house in London since whenever…. May we see the title papers? When was the house bought? Who is the governor’s mortgage company? It was probably bought in cash. Okay? In these nifty times? Okay!

Political Holiday Homes

The elitist practice of acquisition of homes abroad has become the norm among politicians in spite of the law against it and the devalued Naira cost. It would not matter if the person was independently wealthy and not a public servant in Nigeria. Bill Gates is a known Billionaire. He is also known and associated with the products of Microsoft Corporation. Bill Gate’s acquisition of real estate in London or any city in the world would not be news worthy. But if you are a governor of a state in Nigeria with no product, no invention, and no internationally known business but carrying one million pounds in cash; then hello!

The Rule of Law

The rule of law presumes the accused person innocent until proved guilty in a democracy which Britain ascribes to. Charges of money laundering are just charges. It means the police investigators are saying that in their collation of facts, they are of the opinion that a law has been broken and the person associated with those sets of facts is Alams. The question of the personality or position of Alams is bandied as facts that put him above this law because he is a sitting governor of Bayelsa State in Nigeria and as such has sovereign Immunity.

What the public is not aware of is; how is the money in Alams’ possession construed as proceeds of crime and who is the complainant? The governor is said to have immunity by his lawyers because he represents the people of Nigeria. The people of Nigeria are complaining in articles in newspapers and on the Internet that money is stolen by politicians and laundered in London and that the City of London and the British Government and banks are receivers of stolen property. Alams crime, if any is proved, is against the public in whose interest and sovereignty he asserts immunity. Does he have immunity? In the International Criminal Court, we have the war crimes Tribunal where leaders who commit genocide are brought for trial for their actions against the people in the name of the people. Sovereign Immunity does not avail such persons in the same manner as if you used a diplomatic bag to smuggle drugs across international borders.

Trial in London

The London Courts are not bound by Nigerian Law. As a matter of courtesy, they may inform the Nigerian Consular office. The British system of justice is being actively watched by Nigerians, many of whom have been investigated for various cross-border crimes inclusive of 419. Nigerians would want to know if the culture of

Sacred Cows was passed down as an heirloom from the Colonial Office to the present government of President Obasanjo. The London Metropolitan Police had let Dariye off the hook who remains unrepentant and loud in his protestation of innocence in far away Nigeria. As events unfold, the Nigerians are keenly interested in “Common law, Equity and Good Conscience”; to see how much of the law is common; what equity would be applied and if the result leaves the British court system with a good conscience.

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Anonymous October 13, 2005 - 3:25 pm

Go for the content. Do oyur bit by saying what you think of the subject. Thanks

Anonymous October 5, 2005 - 6:15 pm

The aticle has content but the structure is not cohesive and not well put together.

Anonymous October 4, 2005 - 2:11 pm

This is because the war against corruption in the country has been going on for years and the culprit caught is one of the protagonist of the campaign. Even if it is on tip-off it is good the information caught a big fish which shows majority of of leaders are corrupt they are pretenders. How come a nation that is well blessed would subject her citizen to utold hardship because of their own selfish interest. Let him be tried. Had it been they did not allow Dariye to escape when he was caught he would not have mouth to clamoured that he did not engage in money laundering. I pray more of them would be caught. There is no need to protect their interest the whole world knows that Nigeria is corrupt. Even the immunity on officials should be removed for proper prosecution whenever anyone is caught. Demola Nathaniel.


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