Published On: Fri, Sep 20th, 2013

Anxious Wait for FG, Delta State as Court Decides Beneficiary of Ibori’s $15m

James Ibori

LAGOS SEPTEMBER 20th (URHOBOTODAY)-A Federal High Court in Abuja will today decide whether the $15 million allegedly abandoned by a former Delta State governor, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, should be forfeited to the federal government or given back to the state government.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole, who heard the matter, had at the last hearing said he would deliver judgment today.
The money was said to have been offered to a former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, as bribe in order to compromise the investigation of an alleged fraud by Ibori.
The verdict would also put to rest claims and counter-claim being laid on the money by several interest groups and individuals.
At the adoption of final brief of argument in the case, Delta State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Charles Ajuyah (SAN), had told Justice Kolawole that the money belonged to Delta State Government based on the strength of the affidavit evidence by the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamode, that the money was offered as bribe to the anti-graft agency by Ibori.
Ajuyah had argued in the affidavit that Lamode had shown beyond doubt that the money belonged to Delta State having been offered while Ibori was in office.
The counsel drew the attention of the judge to another statement by Dr. Andy Uba, now a Senator that his residence in Asokoro was used by the former governor to channel the money to EFCC which was later kept in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Counsel to the federal government Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said the court had the power to order forfeiture of such abandoned money to the federal government with or without conviction of anybody.
He said the affidavit of EFCC officials which linked the money to Ibori and which the state was using as a weapon was just a mere deposition that could not help the case of the state.
According to him, “Up till this moment, Delta State has not placed before this court, an account of the state where Ibori withdrew, or removed the money to prove its claim of ownership to the money.”
Besides, Jacobs argued that it was too late for the state to lay any claim to the money having earlier sued the federal government and deposed in an affidavit that no money was lost or removed from any of its accounts under Ibori and that Ibori was just been harassed and intimidated by EFCC then.

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