Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has said that the first civilian governor of the state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, died because he was harassed and forced to abandon his medical care abroad.
Mr. Alamieyeseigha died last Saturday at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt.
The state government said in an earlier statement that Mr. Alamieyeseigha died after a long battle with kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Family sources had said that the former governor’s health suddenly deteriorated after the U.K. government requested his extradition to face charges years after Mr. Alamieyeseigha jumped bail and left London where he was arrested over alleged corruption.
The sources said Mr. Alamieyeseigha fled Dubai in the United Arab Emirate where he was receiving medical treatment, to avoid being arrested abroad.
He sought medical care at the University of Port Harcourt, in neighbouring in Rivers, where he eventually died after slipping into coma for days.
Mr. Dickson confirmed the former governor abandoned his medical treatment abroad, although he did not disclose where he was treated.
He condemned what he described as the propaganda and orchestrated harassment that led to the untimely death of the “Governor-General”, and called on the people of the state and Ijaw nation to maintain the peace, as they mourn their departed leader whom he described as a man of peace.
“To us as a people at this trying time, this sad incident should serve to unite us and to rededicate ourselves to the ideals that he stood for,” Mr. Dickson said in a broadcast Tuesday morning.
“We acknowledge the anger, disappointment and the sense of outrage felt by our people at home and in the diaspora, well-meaning Nigerians and others around the world for the way and manner he was harassed and forced to abandon his treatment abroad.
“However, this is not a time for recriminations and divisions but rather a time for sober reflections. I therefore call for all and sundry, particularly the youths to remain calm and maintain the peace as we mourn our departed leader,” he stated.
The governor announced the postponement of the official flagging off of his re-election campaign earlier scheduled for Saturday in Yenagoa, in honour of Mr. Alamieyeseigha.
He also declared a seven-day mourning period during which all flags in public buildings and places would fly at half-mast.
Mr. Dickson said the country and particularly the Ijaw ethnic nationality lost a foremost statesman and leader and the state government was determined to give Mr. Alamieyeseigha a befitting state burial.
“The state government is determined to accord him a befitting state burial. In this regard, a high powered burial committee led by the Deputy Governor has been constituted. This committee will work out details of the programme with the family and other relevant stakeholders,” he said.
While eulogising the former civilian governor, Mr. Dickson said Mr. Alamieyeseigha in his life time, apart from serving Nigeria as a military officer, also dedicated himself to the service of Bayelsa State and the entire Ijaw nation, both as governor and in other capacities.
“His selfless devotion and service to Bayelsa State and the entire Ijaw nation earned him the sobriquet, Governor-General of the Ijaw nation in his lifetime,” he said.
He said condolence registers had been opened at Government House, the state secretariat complex, Ijaw House in Yenagoa and the state liaison offices in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt in honour of the deceased.