The Immunity Shroud

by E. Terfa Ula-Lisa Esq

If the Metropolitan Police at the Heathrow airport saw a gun-man ran amok killing and hacking down persons in his path, they would immediately arrest this person and try him. If they had information that this person was a governor in some African country, they would still arrest him. If you doubt it, let any so-called Governor-General try it. Post 9/11 there has been laws in all collaborating countries about cash transactions. If you are an international traveler carrying more than a certain amount, the security agencies of the world are interested in your business and source of income and you would be under scrutiny whether you are aware of it or not.

Airport Cash Declaration.

Every accused person is entitled to his counsel but when the good Oditah, Q.C. regarding the questioning of the Bayelsa Governor says “Indeed, there is no requirement in the UK to declare any cash brought in or taken out of that country,” one wonders if he has been following international security trends since some terrorist turned our lives around.

If the Q.C. wants to test my theory, all he needs do is to buy a one way ticket to any place in the western hemisphere and he would find the scrutiny of the police dogging him. Further the Q.C should pay cash for the ticket. Further still, if the Q.C. would withdraw from any bank $100,000 cash and take same to any airport, he would encounter the same scrutiny on entering any western country. The issue of chicanery, nepotism, and political brinkmanship and facing the challenging task of nation building in Nigeria, would not be considered when the Q.C. is searched.

Diplomatic Immunity?

Oditah, Q.C. on behalf of his client is reported to have expressed the hope that the British government will respect international conventions as well as local legislation on diplomatic and sovereign immunity and proceeds of crime, and desist from meddling in what he termed “a wholly Nigerian political affair.” We hope that the cash found on the person and in the London home (as a side bar, it in the public interest to reveal when the London home was bought) and we hope also that the home was not bought with the “proceeds of crime”. We are wary of the good governor carrying one million Pounds Sterling cash in a non-cash economy in England. We hope all the solicitors and Barristers that have lined up to defend the sovereign–immunity of the governor, can tell him that he has a right to convert all the Federal allocation of Bayelsa State to his account because he is fighting derivation wars. We beg to differ.

New International Legal Outlook

Professor Sagay was also reported to have said Alamieyeseigha has the same immunity against prosecution that the President of Nigeria enjoys under Nigerian and British laws. Nwabueze is also reported to have supported this, saying Alamieyeseigha enjoys immunity from prosecution under local and international laws. The old theory of the law may be true for Presidents, which Alamieyeseigha is not, but the new international reality of terrorism and money laundering has shifted even that protection. International finance is scrutinized across international borders and cash transactions are presumed illegal source of laundering of drug money and terrorism monies across boundaries until proved otherwise.

Cash Transactions

Every government, including the most primitive of all, has access to bank transfers and international electronic transfer. In the age of the Internet and credit cards, persons who count hard currency in the millions have access to all forms of transfer. That is why cash transactions of thousands and millions in the modern economies are not only primitive but presumed by the advanced economies as an attempt to evade tracing. If your transaction is above board why would you be reluctant to leave a paper trail is the logical question asked by security agents. There is a presumption that if you are smart enough to make up to $10,000 legitimately in the international economy, you would know the rules of credit besides the inconvenience of counting physical cash. A government of a state has many bank accounts and any transaction can be made by transfer. Hardly any business carries one million pounds sterling in cash. If the governor or even President of any country is caught red-handed with cash suspected to be proceeds of terrorism or drugs or money laundering in respect thereto, it would not matter if he pleads immunity to high heavens. This in the new International legal regime post 9/11. Get used to it.

We await November 15 to see that the governor has his day in court. For now, he is presumed innocent until proved otherwise.

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Saylor. October 3, 2005 - 6:14 am

Can you imagine what would have happened here if it were an American Governor arrested for may be smoking hemp in the hotel room or some other crime that we would warrant him being arrested in Nigeria. How will America react. Will you be singing the same tune. Will it be made so open before the man is proving guilty. Mind you I have no doubt that only a corrupt man will do what Alameyesia has done…afterall only corrupt people can contest and win elections in Nigeria for now. You can quote me on that

I condemn Alamaiyesia' s act and see carrying cash as irreseponsible but as long as the cash he is carrying is not British or connected with any drug crime/laundering the the issue of respectability of our sovereignty with regards to immunity comes to the fore. May be the next time The Nigerian president will become the first head of state to be so arrested as he too is stealing by solely managing the petroleum resources and accounting to no one since taking office in 1999. (No one has audited him)

You sound like a brother in diaspora and I understand your passion and resentment against corruptionvery well. It is the major thing holding our beloved country on the ground.

In all I am saying that we should not throw away the baby with the bath water.

Nigeria is bigger than Alameyesia and so we should not get confused when people are saying that we should stop chasing the house rat when the entire house is on fire. Try to see the other picture.

I wish they can get their facts and hold it so that

E. Terfa Ula-Lisa September 29, 2005 - 11:02 am

Hi Anonymous

Thanks for the comments sophisticat. I write for the simplistic. Next time just skip to the next one that meets your fancy.

Much Love Ula-lisa.

Anonymous September 29, 2005 - 12:11 am

Please save this for your simplistic readers.


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