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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 December 2005, 17:38 GMT
Nigeria summons 'rogue' governor
Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha
Mr Alamieyeseigha says his prosecution is political
Nigeria's anti-corruption body has begun legal proceedings against a governor in a special court, which can strip elected officials of immunity.

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha faces charges of corruption and failure to declare properties and bank accounts at the Kaduna Code of Conduct Tribunal.

He escaped to Nigeria from the UK where he was accused of money-laundering.

The judge ordered newspapers to publish a summons for him to appear in court and adjourned the case for a week.

Correspondents say he is under siege, facing impeachment in his home state and suspension from the ruling party.

Mr Alamieyeseigha did not turn up for the hearing in the northern city of Kaduna.

Extra troops have been sent to his oil-rich Bayelsa state and they have closed down the state radio station, which some see as being close to the governor.

He has moved out of his official residence in the state capital, Yenagoa, and has surrounded himself with his own team of armed bodyguards.

He is accused of operating unauthorised bank accounts in several countries including Britain, and illegally acquiring property in London and Nigeria.

Last week, Mr Alamieyeseigha told the BBC that the 1.8m ($3.2m) found in his properties in London did not belong to him.

He said the charges against him were politically motivated.

Women's clothing

Although elected officials have immunity from prosecution in Nigeria, the BBC's Yusuf Sarki Mohammed in the capital, Abuja, says the Code of Conduct tribunal can override this and can even prosecute the president.

Several days ago, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair seeking an explanation of how Mr Alamieyeseigha managed to escape while he was on bail.

Nigerian officials have said Mr Alamieyeseigha had left Britain disguised in women's clothing, although he has denied this.

Mr Alamieyeseigha said he was prepared to return to Britain, where police say they want him back to face the charges.

He was granted bail on condition that he remained in the UK, surrendered his passport and reported regularly to the police.

If the judges find that he has skipped bail, securities worth some 1.25m ($2.14m) would be forfeited.

Mr Obasanjo set up the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in order to fight fraud in a country ranked as one of the most corruption in the world.

But his critics say the anti-corruption drive is bring used to eliminate political rivals.

Mr Alamieyeseigha is seen as being close to Vice-President Atiku Abubakar - who is vying with Mr Obasanjo for control of the ruling People's Democratic Party.

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