Aso Rock seems to be ready to engage Great Britain in a diplomatic battle over the request to extradite former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
The Federal Government on Friday told SUNDAY PUNCH that it would not extradite Alamieyeseigha to the United Kingdom to face money laundering charges.
While reacting to a statement by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Pocock, the FG accused the envoy of challenging the sovereignty of the country.
The President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration stated that it was not willing to extradite Alamieyeseigha because the British government did not go through ‘appropriate channels.’
An highly-placed government official who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter said, “The UK cannot dictate to us. The government is not willing to extradite the former governor because of what they (UK) are saying on the pages of newspapers.”
Also, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that the UK request to extradite Alamieyeseigha predated President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Pocock was reported on Thursday to have said Alamieyeseigha, who recently got state pardon for his criminal conviction in Nigeria, still has an outstanding case of money laundering to answer to in the UK.
He said the UK government would not give up until Alamieyeseigha was brought to justice.
According to the envoy, the UK had asked the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for Alamieyeseigha’s extradition and was still awaiting his position on the issue when Jonathan announced the state pardon.
He had said, “The former governor skipped bail in the UK on a charge of money laundering and returned to Nigeria. So, he has an outstanding charge in the UK, which is there for him to answer.
“We have already discussed it and the Nigerian government knows our views. But we would like to see him return and answer charge in the UK.
“I am very sure we asked in the past. But I am not sure we got a formal response. So, we are still waiting for a formal response from the Nigerian government.”
But a government spokesperson, who pleaded anonymity, told our correspondent that the request which Pocock talked about was an old one that was made shortly after the former governor returned to Nigeria.
When asked why the present administration refused to take action on an old request, he said, “The request is an old one. It was not made under this administration, you can check the date. The request predates this administration.
“I am sure the request must have been made in 2005/2006 when the events happened. That surely was before the inception of this administration.
“In any case, it is inappropriate for the envoy to be addressing issues such as this on the pages of newspapers. There are established diplomatic channels to address such issues because diplomacy has its own rules.
The pardon granted Alamieyeseigha by Jonathan had also led to a diplomatic row between Nigeria and the United States with the latter threatening to sanction Nigeria for Jonathan’s action.
Read full version at The Punch.