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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 17:45 GMT
Nigeria governor on fraud charges
Former Bayelsa state governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha
Diepreye Alamieyeseigha lost his immunity after being impeached
An impeached Nigerian governor has appeared in a Lagos court on 40 counts of corruption and money-laundering.

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was arrested in oil-rich Bayelsa state earlier this month after jumping bail in the UK.

His is accused of owning several multi-million dollar mansions in Nigeria, London and Cape Town.

He was not asked to plead but has previously denied that 1.8m ($3.2m) found in cash and bank accounts in London belonged to him.

He is expected to enter a plea on Wednesday after his lawyers have had time to study the charge-sheet.

At the court, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecutor Rotimi Jacobs told the BBC that Nigeria would be prepared to start extradition proceedings, if the British government made a formal request to hand Mr Alamieyeseigha over.

As Nigeria battles to shed a reputation for corruption, this is the first time a governor has been impeached.

Minister 'sacked'

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Iyorcha Ayu has left office after MPs accused him of corruption.

He denies the charges and says he resigned in order to clear his name, although President Olusegun Obasanjo's spokeswoman says Mr Ayu was sacked.

Mr Alamieyeseigha enjoyed immunity from prosecution in Nigeria as a governor, until he was impeached.

He is also facing allegations of fraud by a special anti-corruption court sitting in the northern city of Kaduna.

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

He said the charges against him were politically motivated.

This move is an achievement for Mr Obasanjo's anti-corruption crusade.

The president set up a special anti-corruption body to fight fraud in a country ranked as one of the most corrupt 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 (PDP).


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