Delta may lose out on $250m Ibori loot

james-ibori

james-ibori

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The Delta State Government may not get anything from the about $250m worth of assets and money which the United Kingdom claims a former governor, Chief James Ibori, stole from the state, The PUNCH has learnt.

Ibori is currently facing a confiscation hearing which may lead to the permanent forfeiture of all his assets purchased with the proceeds of crime.

The British Government had accused Ibori of stealing about $250m from the Delta State Government part of which was used in buying six houses and luxury vehicles in the UK, the United States and South Africa.

Already the Delta State Government has permanently forfeited $15m of the Ibori loot to the Federal Government for failing to cooperate with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to bring Ibori to justice. The state government had even challenged the EFCC’s right to probe Ibori in 2008, insisting that Ibori never stole.

While giving his ruling on the case of the EFCC vs the Delta State Government regarding the ownership of the $15m which Ibori allegedly used in bribing a former Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Justice Gabriel Kolawole had accused the state government of protecting Ibori.

The judge ruled that money recovered from Ibori must be paid into the Federation Account and not the Delta State coffers.

The judge said, “With utmost sense of responsibility as a judicial officer, I view the stiff resistance mounted by the Delta State Government and its official as one which borders on the state’s acquiesce in the looting of its own fund or at best, as that of collaborators with its erstwhile governor on the issue of $15m allegedly offered to former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu as bribe.”

According to AFP news agency, before Ibori returns to Nigeria, he must face a deportation hearing and then also pay £18m to the UK government as the “proceeds of crime.”

Sources within the EFCC told our correspondent that Delta State had done nothing to assist in the investigation and prosecution of Ibori and should thus not be entitled to any money.

A senior detective told our correspondent that the body language of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led government suggested that the state government was still in support of Ibori.

A source at the EFCC said, “The state government has not shown any seriousness in helping to recover Ibori’s loot. Back in 2009, the state government did everything possible to frustrate the Federal Government’s efforts and even went to court to challenge the EFCC. They claimed Ibori never stole.

“Much has not changed today because the state government last week issued a statement celebrating the release of Ibori. The Attorney General of the state, Mr. Peter Mrakpor, celebrated Ibori’s release and even called on the Federal Government to pardon him.”

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Contact: editor@punchng.com

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