Pardon, part of my plea bargain, says Alamieyeseigha
Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governor of Bayelsa State, has said that the state pardon recently granted him by President Goodluck Jonathan was part the plea bargain between him and the Federal Government, then headed by Umaru Yar'Adua.
In an interview published in the April current edition of the London based NewsAfrica magazine, Chief Alamieyeseigha said his own part was to deliver on peace in the Niger Delta by convincing the militants to accept the Federal Government's amnesty programme. And this he did. I convinced the militants to accept the FG's amnesty and I have not stopped ever since. The country owes the peace in the Niger Delta partly to my efforts. Till today, every day, I get one report or the other and I intervene because they all see me as their father, leader and governor general'.
This pardon did not start from Goodluck (President Jonathan). It was part of the agreement with the government. Because Goodluck knows the story from the beginning, he was just carrying out part of an existing agreement'. He said he was prepared to fight the corruption charges against him to the end but accepted the plea bargain for three reasons (which he had also said in the court then before the judge passed the sentence}: 'one because of my age and deteriorating health; two because of the escalating violence in the Niger Delta, the loss of the lives of the youth protesting that I had to be released'. The third reason was that he saw Yar'adua as a man of integrity.
Speaking for the first time on the plea bargain which saw him plead guilty without spending a single day in jail in 2008, Alamieyeseigha said he was in Dubai on medical treatment when Nuhu Ribadu, the then chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) generated a letter purportedly from the government that he 'was persona non grata and planned to overthrow the government of Nigeria'. The allegation came about after his five of his former colleagues and Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President, visited him at the hospital. The Federal Government then sent security men to whisk him back to Nigeria and straight to the EFCC cell, although he was in the middle of his medical treatment.
'I could not even walk because I had a metal implant in my groin'. He said: 'Ribadu said he did not care if he died there. The following night, Ibrahim Lamorde, (the present EFCC boss) brought a phone to me and said it was President Yar'Adua who wanted to speak to me. He (Yar'Adua) said 'Ginuwa (his traditional title in Katsina), I cannot be President and see you die because they will kill you. I am the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria not Olusegun Obasanjo (anymore). The information available to me suggests that they will kill you. So come out. Do not contest anything'. Asked by the magazine who he thought the 'they' were, he responded 'forces in government'.
According to Alamieyeseigha, Yar'Adua, promised him that 'you are not going to spend one day in prison. I will give you pardon. Come out and help solve the Niger Delta problem. But I know how stubborn and difficult you are when you believe in something. So, I am going to send your younger brother (Goodluck Jonathan) the Vice President to you: to speak to you and to convey my decision'.
The former governor said the Vice President came following day and was shocked to see his state of health: 'He (Jonathan) made a statement, 'This is the man in this state that wants to overthrow the government of Nigeria? He conveyed Yar'Adua message. I slept over what the President and the Vice President said and I felt they were making sense'. On why Yar'Adua did not give him the pardon before he died, Alamieyeseigha said the then President had asked him to apply but the political forces against him then generated a security report that he was paired with Atiku to contest the 2011 election against Yar'Adua and Jonathan. 'They advised him to step it down till the duo got their nominations from the PDP.
'I laughed because there was no way under the heaven that I could contest election against my younger brother, Goodluck Jonathan.'
In comments that may reveal one of the reasons Yar'Adua removed Ribadu from office, he said he had gone to Abuja to thank the President for freeing him when Yar'Adua asked 'when I will be ready to take up ministerial office to help him solve the Niger Delta problem. I told him I had a metal implant in my groin and needed to go and remove it.'