updated 11/23/2005 9:49:18 AM ET 2005-11-23T14:49:18

Local Nigerian lawmakers have begun an impeachment process against a state governor who jumped bail in Britain and flew back home after he was charged with laundering millions of dollars, a regional official said Wednesday.

"We have served the governor an impeachment notice for him to respond to allegations" of corruption, said Peremobowei Ebebi, speaker of Bayelsa state's parliament.

Bayelsa Gov. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha has 14 days to respond to the impeachment charges, which have been signed by 20 of the state's 24 lawmakers.

Alamieyeseigha jumped a 1.25 million pounds bail and flew back home this week, being greeted in the Bayelsa state capital Yenegoa by thousands of cheering supporters. He had been charged in Britain with laundering $3.2 million of stolen government funds.

The governor has declined to give details of how he escaped from Britain, saying in a speech from the roof of his office in Yenegoa, that he returned by "mysterious intervention." Nigeria's anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has said he disguised himself as a woman and left the country with a false passport.

Alamieyeseigha's passport was confiscated by police and he had been ordered to report daily to a police station. His wife was also arrested for questioning after funds believed to have been laundered were found in her bank accounts, and she has to report to the same London police station three times a week under bail conditions, said Ibrahim Lamode, an official at the Nigerian fraud commission.

Alamieyeseigha is the second of Nigeria's 36 state governors to be charged with money laundering and later skip bail. Under the constitution, he enjoys immunity from prosecution as long as he remains governor.

Last year, British police arrested the governor of central Nigeria's Plateau state in a money-laundering probe launched jointly with Nigerian authorities. Attempts by Nigerian authorities to prosecute him after his return home were thrown out by a Nigerian judge because of his constitutional immunity.

Alamieyeseigha, 53, was first elected governor of oil-rich Bayelsa in a 1999 election that ended nearly two decades of military rule in Nigeria. He was re-elected in 2003. He was accused of employing thugs to help rig both elections, which he has denied.

Bayelsa is one of the largest oil-producing states in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil exporter. Alamieyeseigha is a member of President Olusegun Obasanjo's ruling party, but he has increasingly found himself at odds with the president over demands that his ethnic Iaw people get a greater share of oil revenues.

Nigeria, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, regularly ranks as one of the world's most corrupt nations in annual surveys by the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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