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Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 17:46 GMT
Nigeria governor 'skips UK bail'
Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha
Mr Alamieyeseigha earns less than $1,000 a month as a governor
The governor of an oil-rich Nigerian state has fled the UK, where he was charged with laundering 1.8m ($3.2m) found in cash and bank accounts.

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha is back at work in his home state of Bayelsa, officials say. He was granted bail in September, on condition he stayed in the UK.

He was originally arrested in September at Heathrow airport and some 1m-worth of cash was found in his London home.

Mr Alamieyeseigha says he is innocent and said the UK was being neo-colonial.

Bayelsa's Information Commissioner Oronto Douglas told the AFP news agency: "We woke up this morning and he was here... He said that God brought him here."

The head of Nigeria's anti-corruption body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), told the BBC's Hausa service that Mr Alamieyeseigha had "forged documents" and "dressed as a woman" to escape the UK.

It was a "scandal", said Nuhu Ribadu.

'Lost weight'

The BBC's Jamila Tangaza in the capital, Abuja, says Mr Alamieyeseigha has been shown on television waving to crowds of his supporters.

Our correspondent says the governor appears to have lost a lot of weight.

The government has not yet commented on the incident but correspondents say it will come as an embarrassment to President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Political risk analyst Anthony Goldman told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that officials had been worried about the possibility of Mr Alamieyeseigha fleeing the UK and the bail conditions were extremely strict.

He had to surrender his passport and report to a police station twice a day. He did not report on Friday evening.

It is not clear how he travelled to Nigeria.

Under Nigerian law, governors enjoy immunity from prosecution while in office.

However, such immunity does not extend beyond Nigeria's shores.

Anti-corruption drive

Last year, another Nigerian state governor returned home after being arrested in London.

Joshua Dariye from Plateau state was quizzed by police on money laundering allegations involving more than 1m.

Nigeria is considered one of the world's most corrupt countries but Mr Obasanjo has vowed to fight the problem.

He set up the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after his election in 1999.

Although several senior officials have been put under investigation for alleged corruption in recent months, there has not been any significant conviction during his six years in power.

Mr Obasanjo's critics say the anti-corruption drive is being used to target his political opponents.


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