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UK Transfers Former Nigerian Governor's Money


Nigerian officials have received $1.8 million British police seized from a former Nigerian state governor. The former governor of oil-rich Bayelsa state is now charged with corruption in Nigeria.

Dressed up as a woman, Bayelsa state's former governor Diepreye Alameiyesiegha returned to Nigeria six months ago, after having skipped bail in the UK, where he had been charged with money laundering.

He had been arrested in London on his way back to Nigeria from stomach reduction surgery in Germany.

London police had seized nearly a million pounds in cash that they found in suitcases and sacks.

After a check was handed over to the Nigerian High Commissioner on Thursday, London detective Peter Clark told Reuters news agency, "We believe these types of seizures will help deter financial crime in both London and Nigeria."

The Bayelsa house assembly has impeached Alameiyesiegha. Without the immunity granted to Nigerian state governors, he is now facing trial for corruption charges.

International watchdog, Transparency International, ranks Nigeria as the sixth most corrupt country in the world. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has said he is trying to crack down on political corruption in Nigeria.

Africa analyst Olly Owen told VOA that the charges against Alameiyesiegha may be partially politically motivated.

"Alameiyesiegha is a massive thorn in the state government's side," he said. "He has advocated a greater distribution of resources."

Owen says this does not mean Alameiyesiegha is not corrupt, but that he is not being protected by the state, because he is not conforming to party standards.

Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 governors would be facing corruption charges if they did not have immunity.

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