Ibori Loot: We’ve Written A Formal Letter Of Protest To Buhari – Okowa

The Delta State Government has asked the Federal Government to return the £4.2 million James Ibori loot being repatriated to Nigeria by the United Kingdom to the state.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa believes that since the money was stolen from the state, it would only be just to return the funds back to the state.

“I have spoken with the attorney-general of the federation. My attorney-general went to have a meeting with him. I think that we are working and we are likely to come on the same page. We have written a formal letter of protest to Mr President,” the Governor said on Wednesday during an appearance on Politics Today.

The protest by the state is in reaction to the decision of the Federal Government to spend the funds on federal projects.

READ ALSO: UK Govt To Return £4.2m Ibori Loot

Nigeria and the UK had signed a memorandum of understanding on March 9 for the repatriation of the funds stolen by Ibori, a former Delta State Governor.

But the development became mired in controversy shortly after the MoU was signed when the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, revealed the money will be spent by the Federal Government.

The projects it will be spent on, he said, were the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Two Options

Governor Okowa, however, expects the Federal Government to take a similar route as the UK Government by returning the money to the source it was pilfered from.

“In the same manner of the relationship created between the UK and Nigeria, we also expect that the Nigerian Government will do the same thing by being magnanimous to return the money back to the source, which is Delta State,” he said.

To guarantee that Deltans benefit from the repatriated loot, the governor said it had provided options to the Federal Government and made a compelling case for the state.

“We have made two suggestions; return the money directly to us or apply it directly to projects that we feel are of importance and are in Delta State so that Deltans can directly benefit from the repatriated funds and I don’t think anybody can fault that line (of thinking)”, he said.

The governor is not alone in his position.

A day after the news of the planned return of the loot broke, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on the Federal Government to ensure that it was returned to Delta State.

Lawmakers passed the resolution after their colleagues from the state moved a motion of urgent public importance.

As far as they were concerned, the funds were stolen from the state and should be returned to it.

Ibori, who was Delta State Governor from 1999 to 2007, was convicted by a UK court in 2012 and was sentenced to 13 years in jail with several of his assets forfeited to the UK Government. He was released in 2016.

 

Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Femi Falana also backed the calls for the return of the funds to the state.

He commended the Federal Government for negotiating and pursuing the return of the loot to Nigeria but insisted that it be returned to the source.

“Since the money left the coffers of the Delta State Government, it has to be returned once it is recovered,” Falana said during an appearance on Politics Today.

The attorney-general of the federation, however, has a different argument.

“The major consideration relating to who is entitled to a fraction or perhaps the money in its entirety is a function of law and international diplomacy,” Mr. Malami told Channels TV of the Federal Government’s decision.

“All the processes associated with the recovery were consummated by the federal government and the federal government is, indeed, the victim of crime and not sub-national.”

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, made an appearance on Channels Television on June 30, 2020.
Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, says the Ibori loot will be spent on, the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

 

Ultimately, Governor Okowa believes President Muhammadu Buhari will grant the state’s request as that is the right thing to do.

“I do believe that with the approach that we have undertaken it is unlikely that they will refuse the request. It is a strong appeal,” he said.

The governor rubbished claims that if the money is returned to Delta State “it will develop wings”.

“I don’t see how the money will develop wings anyway,” he said. “That is why we have directly put down projects – three projects where this money can be applied directly to such a manner that it is something you can investigate.”

Return £4.2m Ibori Loot To Delta State, Reps Tell FG

The House of Representatives on Wednesday called on the Federal Government to ensure that the £4.2million Ibori loot be returned to Delta State.

The lawmakers insisted that the funds were stolen from Delta State and as such should rightly be returned to the state. They added that the funds are needed for the infrastructural development of the state.

This was the resolution reached after a motion of urgent public importance which was sponsored by all the lawmakers from Delta State.

READ ALSO: FG To Speed Up Efforts For International Flights Resumption At Kano Airport, Says Sirika

Meanwhile, the lawmakers said the total money is £6.2 million and not £4.2 million as is being reported.

The House also asked the Federal Ministry of Finance to direct the Attorney General of Federation, Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and give the House all particulars relating to the recovered money.

 

Federal Project or Delta State?

The United Kingdom on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to return the sum of £4.2 million assets stolen by former Delta State Governor, James Ibori to Nigeria.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said the recovery of the stolen fund is part of the efforts of the current administration to fight corruption and that the money will be used for the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and Lagos-Ibadan Express road.

Following criticisms on why the loot is not returned to Delta State, Malami in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today insisted that it will be used for federal projects and not returned to the Delta State Government where it was pilfered from.

“The major consideration relating to who is entitled to a fraction or perhaps the money in its entirety is a function of law and international diplomacy,” Mr. Malami said during the interview.

 

He argued that the law that was alleged to have been breached by Ibori was a federal law and that the parties of interests involved in the repatriation of the funds were national and not sub-national governments.

“All the processes associated with the recovery were consummated by the federal government and the federal government is, indeed, the victim of crime and not sub-national,” he said.

When pressed on whether the British government had insisted that the money be spent on certain projects, Mr. Malami said it was not “a matter of insistence but a matter of negotiation between two sovereign states.”

Wike, Okowa Call For Protection Of Niger Delta’s Unity

Wike, Okowa Call For Protection Of Niger Delta Unity

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State have called on Niger Delta leaders to unite for the rapid development of the region.

According to them, unity is needed in the region to check the situation where outsiders take advantage of the disunity of the South-South geo-political zone.

The governors made the call on Sunday when they visited former Delta State governor, James Ibori, at his residence in Oghara, Delta State.

“Niger Delta must continue to be united. Whatever it takes, unity is still very key. When we are divided, outsiders will come and exploit our resources to the disadvantage of our communities,” Wike said.

“We have to fight to protect the interest of the Niger Delta. We must work as brothers, we must work as a team, we must not allow our united front to be divided.”

On his part, Governor Okowa said the people of Niger Delta must work together to make the geo-political zone a stronger political voice in the country.

He also described Wike as a grassroots politician who is providing effective leadership for the people of Rivers State, adding that the political class in Delta State was under a political family led by former governor Ibori.

In his remarks, Ibori commended the governors for their cooperation on developmental issues and urged them to continue to work towards building a stronger united force for all states in the region.

“We need to be united to be able to serve our people better. We have to cooperate for the good of our people,” he said.

The meeting was also attended by former acting chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, and former a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Austin Opara among others.

James Ibori Likely To Appeal UK Conviction

James Ibori, UKLawyers to the former Governor of Delta State, Mr James Ibori, say he is likely to appeal against his conviction in the UK on grounds that the British Police and lawyers involved in his case were corrupt.

Mr Ibori’s lawyer, Ivan Krolick, told the Southwark Crown Court that the former governor was “95 percent certain” in challenging his conviction in the Court of Appeal, based on documents that have only recently been disclosed to the defence by the prosecution.

He added that the documents showed that there had been widespread police corruption followed by a cover-up that is ongoing.

The main allegation was that a police officer involved in the Ibori probe took payments for information in 2007, from a firm of private detectives working on Ibori’s behalf.

The police, however, debunked the claims, saying that the allegation was thoroughly investigated.

They maintained that no one was arrested or charged and no misconduct was identified.

Ibori, who was Governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, is serving a 13-year sentence in a British jail after pleading guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering.

His conviction in Britain was seen as a high point in efforts to fight corruption in Nigeria.

At a hearing in a London court, Ibori’s lawyers had alleged serious misconduct by Britain’s prosecuting authorities.

The allegations included failure on the part of the prosecution team to properly disclose information to the defence in relation to alleged corruption by a British police officer involved in the investigation, thereby misleading the court with false statements.

In response to the allegation, Britain’s state prosecution agency said that the conviction remained valid, in spite of evidence that a British police officer took bribes during the investigation of his case.

UK Says Ibori’s Conviction Stands Despite Bribery Evidence

Delta State, Bribery evidence, James Ibori, IboriBritain’s state prosecution agency has said that the conviction of former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, remains valid in spite of evidence that a British police officer took bribes during the investigation of his case.

Lawyers representing the jailed former governor had alleged serious misconduct by Britain’s prosecuting authorities.

The allegations include that the prosecution team failed to properly disclose information to the defence in relation to alleged corruption by a British police officer involved in the investigation, and that it made misleading statements in court.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Thursday that while the information “should have been disclosed to the defence”, that did not call into question the validity of the convictions of Ibori and others.

This is sequel to an internal review of the case which lasted months, after it (CPS) said in May that it had found “material to support the assertion that a police officer received payment in return for information”.

One of Ibori’s associates, who has been convicted of money-laundering, Bhadresh Gohil, had also alleged that the judicial process was tainted because prosecutors had covered up evidence of police corruption.

Ibori’s lawyer, Jonathan Kinnear, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the agency’s latest position. Gohil’s lawyer, however, said that he could not comment for legal reasons.

Ibori was governor of oil-producing Delta State from 1999 to 2007 and is serving a 13-year sentence in a British prison after pleading guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering.

He is the most senior Nigerian politician to have been held to account for the corruption.

His conviction in Britain was seen as a high point in efforts to fight corruption in Nigeria.

Governor Udom Loses Bid To Stop Election Tribunal Holding In Abuja

udom_emmanuel loses petition at tribunalThe attempt by the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, to stop the state’s election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja has proved abortive.

The tribunal in its ruling, dismissed the petition for lack of merit, saying it was misconceived and misplaced.

It ruled that while Akwa Ibom State succeeded in terms of proximity to the venue of the election, it failed in terms of accessibility, especially in a situation where the security of lives and property of the members of the tribunal and litigants could not be guaranteed.

The Governor, through his counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, had challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal for sitting in Abuja, instead of Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State, as provided by section 285 (2) of the 1999 Constitution.

The Governor’s counsel, in his objection to the sitting of the tribunal in Abuja, argued that his client had been denied fair hearing, as provided in Section 36 of the Constitution.

He argued that Section 285(2) is specific that the tribunal shall consider proximity and accessibility to where the election was conducted before the venue for sitting to adjudicate on any petition.

However, in his ruling, the Tribunal Chairman, Justice Sadiq Umar, agreed with Counsel to the Petitioner, Mr Woke Olanipekun, that the issue of security was recognised in law, to decide the location where an election tribunal shall seat.

Justice Umar also agreed with the petitioner that the issue of fair hearing could not take the front burner, when tribunal members and litigants security were being considered by the Court of Appeal in determining the venue for the sitting.

The tribunal disagreed with the authorities cited by the defendants in the case of Ibori and Ogboru, adding that while Ibori’s case took place in 2005, the constitution had since been amended and had provided time limit to hear and decide a petition, unlike in the Ogboru’s case where there was no time limit. He also cited the level of insecurity in the country as a factor to consider.

It was agreed that the issue of proximity and accessibility could only be considered when the security of the tribunal and litigants was guaranteed in line with the provision of the law.

Money Laundering: Ibori Loses Appeal Over 13-Year Jail Term

Delta State, Bribery evidence, James Ibori, IboriThe jailed former Delta State governor, James Ibori, lost a legal appeal on Thursday against a 13-year prison sentence for embezzling more than $250 million.

Mr Ibori, a founding member of Nigeria’s ruling party and a behind-the-scenes kingmaker who ran Delta State for 8 years, was trying to get his sentence reduced. His lawyers argued that the original judge had indicated the term would be shorter.

Judge Antony Edwards-Stuart rejected that argument at the appeal hearing and also said that money laundering should attract close to the maximum 14-year sentence.

Mr Ibori pleaded guilty to 10 charges of fraud and money-laundering in February 2012 and is the most prominent Nigerian politician to be successfully prosecuted for corruption.

The former governor’s case was heard in London after prosecutors argued that, although much of the activity in question took place in Nigeria, some money did pass through Britain and British banks.

During his trial last year, a London court heard the stolen fortune was used to buy six foreign property and a fleet of cars, although the judge said the total amount stolen may in fact be “in excess of 200 million pounds”.

The biggest single fraud involved misappropriating $37 million in fees when Mr Ibori’s Delta State sold its stake in the Nigerian mobile telecoms company V Mobile.

The Ibori case was heralded as a major success for London’s police, with Britain long seen as a destination of choice for corrupt Nigerian politicians to spend their ill-gotten gains.

Mr Ibori, who was elected governor of Delta in 1999 during Nigeria’s transition from military to civil rule, could still play a prominent role in Nigerian public life on his release.

Eligible for parole halfway through his jail term, he is likely to be out of prison in 3-1/2 years, having served a year since the trial, a year beforehand awaiting trial in London and a year in Dubai from where he was extradited to Britain.

Ibori’s Bribe Money: Court Sets 28 January For Judgement

A Federal High court in Abuja will on 28 January decide whether or not to grant the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) leave to furnish it with more facts on why the Delta State Government should not have a $15 million dollars bribe traced to the convicted former governor of the state James Ibori.

The anti-graft agency is alleging that once the money is released to the Delta State Government, it will have it transferred to the convicted ex-governor of the state to address his current ordeal at a London prison.

When the hearing resumed on the case, a heated arguments ensued between lawyers representing the EFCC and the Delta state government over claims by the commission that the state is pursuing a malicious and dubious interest in laying claims to the bribe proceeds.

The EFCC went further to declare in an application for leave that it needs more time to prove its claims that indeed the state wants the money in order to do the bidding of Mr Ibori who it said is bent on wriggling out of a London detention.

The Delta State counsel, the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Charles Ajuyah, had vehemently refuted the allegations of the EFCC.

He further faulted the anti-graft agency for including claims that the state was paying pension to the ex-governor which he insisted was not true.

According to Mr Ajuyah the Delta State Government plans to use the money for infrastructural development.

The Court had on July 24, 2012, granted an interim order forfeiting the $15 million to the Federal Government.

The money had been kept in the strong room of the Central Bank of Nigeria as an unclaimed property since August 2007.

In seeking to claim the cash, the Federal Government had claimed that the said sum, “if left untouched and unspent in the state it was kept in the strong room since April 2007, may eventually be destroyed, defaced, mutilated and become useless.”

As part of the interim order, the court had ordered anyone interested in the property to appear before it to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

As a result, the Delta State Government applied to claim the money, saying it belonged to the state.

Ibori $15 million bribe: EFCC wants contempt charge for Edwin Clark

An oral application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the leave of the court to summon a former Minister of Information, Edwin Clark for contempt of court has been refused by Justice Gabriel Kolawole.

At a resumed hearing to determine the owner of the $15 million alleged bribe offered by former Delta State governor, James Ibori to the former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, the counsel to the commission, Rotimi Jacobs complained of statements credited to Mr Clark suggesting that the proceedings filed by the EFCC was based on falsehood as such the agency’s boss Ibrahim Lamorde should be sacked.

Mr Jacobs argued that the statements credited to Mr Clark in some newspapers which arose from a media briefing convened by the Ijaw leader are prejudicial. He urged the court to summon Mr Clark to appear before it to answer questions as to why he made prejudicial comments that touches on live issues in a pending case.

The former minister had, during a press briefing on the issue of an application for forfeiture of the alleged Ibori bribe which the EFCC had brought before the court, thrown his weight behind claims by the Delta state government that the money belonged to the state and should be returned to it. He called for the sack of Mr Lamorde over his roles in the plot to have the sum forfeited to the Federal Government.

He claimed that Mr Lamorde has his eyes on the percentage of the sum that will come to his office if the money is forfeited to the federal government and accused the anti-graft agency boss of falsifying the records for his ulterior motives.

In his response to the application by the EFCC for Mr Clark to be summoned by the court, the Attorney General of Delta state, Wilson Ajuya, called on the court to be cautious and not to waste precious time pursuing an issue that is outside the matter before it.

He further noted that summoning the elder statesman at this time will be premature since the court is yet to read and acquaint itself with the newspaper reports upon which the EFCC is basing their application.

In his ruling to the application, Justice Kolawole said Mr Clark is not a party in the suit pending before his court and that dwelling on comments made by non-parties in a suit amounts to searching for the cure for ring worm in a case involving leprosy.

The court however called on Nigerians, especially lawyers like Mr Clark who ought to know, to desist from making comments on matters pending before the court as that will prejudge the outcome of the case.

The court also advised the EFCC to file a formal application to enable Mr Clark respond accordingly in line with his constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing.

Meanwhile, another person, Olalekan Bayode, had also applied to be joined in the Ibori bribe money matter on a public interest locus.

Mr. Bayode wants the government not to release the $15 million to Delta state government but rather to set up a Trust to manage the money on behalf of Nigerians. He hinged his argument on the repatriated funds retrieved from corrupt politicians in the past which could not be accounted for.

The judge adjourned further proceedings to 19 November at 11 am.

$15 million Ibori bribe: Clark calls for Lamorde’s sack

A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the South-South region, Edwin Clark on Tuesday called for the sack of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Lamorde Ibrahim.

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde

Mr Clark said the EFCC chairman should be sacked for his role and handling of the case involving the $15 million allegedly offered as bribe by former governor of Delta State, James Ibori to a former Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Nuhu Ribadu to shield him (Mr Ibori) from investigation and prosecution.

“I’m surprised, embarrassed and disappointed that the various participants in this matter have not lived up to expectation. Lamorde, who is today the chairman of EFCC have disappointed me. He has shown to me that he is not the man competent, transparent, and courageous enough to man this office of anti-corruption agency,” Mr Clark said.

The Ijaw leader, who spoke in Abuja, also demanded that the Federal Government should conduct a full scale investigation into the controversial matter.

He also called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to refund the said money to the Delta State government.

The $15million lodged with the CBN is now being claimed and counter claimed by the federal government and Delta state government.

While the federal government is laying claim to the money that has being kept in CBN’s custody since 2007 on the ground that Mr Ibori denied ownership of the money, the incumbent Delta state government however is asking the court to declare it the bonafide owner of the money, having been allegedly offered by the former governor while in office.

$15 million Ibori bribe: Court orders IGP to investigate Uba and Achigbu

The Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Wuse Zone 6, Abuja on Monday ordered the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar to conduct a thorough criminal investigation against Andy Uba and Chibuike Achigbu over allegations surrounding the $15 million Ibori bribe.

The order was made based on a direct criminal complaint filed in the court by Festus Keyamo against Misters Uba and Achigbu accusing them of conspiracy, abetment and bribery in respect of the $15 million Ibori bribe.

Mr Achigbu had filed an application before a Federal High Court in Abuja claiming the ownership of the $15 million USD allegedly received from a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

He had submitted that he gave the money to Mr Uba, a former aide to the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo, for the purpose of financing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2007 general election.

He said that Mr Uba advised him to deliver the fund to him (Uba) for onward transmission to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) being the agency of the Federal Government sufficiently equipped to give a clean bill of legitimacy to the fund before it could be donated to PDP.

Chief Magistrate Okagu ordered the Inspector-General of Police to report back to the court with his findings on the 26 September, 2012.

Mr Keyamo has already written to the Inspector-General of Police forwarding the Certified True Copy of the court order for his attention and necessary action.

 

Ibori returns to court tomorrow

Former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, who is serving a jail term in London will on Monday return to the Southwark Crown Court for the confiscation of assets.

Both the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Mr Ibori’s defence team will finalise arrangements to confiscate the £50 million assets for which he received a 13-year jail term at the same court in April.

The former governor had earlier requested to be present in court in May when the confiscation hearing was listed for mention, but the Judge, who jailed him, declined, saying it wasn’t necessary.

Two sources at the Crown Court confirmed that Mr Ibori would be present for the hearing. “It’s in Court 5, at 10am and he’ll be coming,” one of the sources said, when asked if Ibori would be there with his legal team.

Asked in which prison the convicted governor would be coming from, another court staff said she had no idea, but that Mr Ibori was presently not at Wandsworth Prison, where he spent the early days of his conviction.

“I don’t really know where he is, as the system has not been updated,” she responded.

And on who would be on Mr Ibori’s defence team when State prosecutors make their case to strip him of his ill-gotten wealth on Monday, another court staff said, “we don’t know who’s representing him, but the prosecutor is the CPS.”