I Never Thought Ibori would Run Away to Dubai, says Farida Waziri

“Yes, we have good news.  I was just talking to Nigerian Ambassador to Dubai, Ambassador Yuguda. It has been confirmed that Ibori was arrested by the Interpol. We have been exchanging interaction with the Interpol and the Metroplitan police since we declared him wanted. International warrant of arrest was also issued. Yesterday, he was arrested and he is undergoing interrogation with them there in Dubai.

The man in charge of his case in the UK has dispatched detectives to Dubai to start the process. We are consulting here also.  You heard me say I will discuss with the NSA the next line of action, whether our officers would go to Dubai or whether the MET. Police would want to take him to start trial there. We also have our cases against him here pending. That is the good news.

We have a case against him in the Appeal Court Benin that is the quashing of the 170 count charge. We appealed, the case came up, he was not there. Two, we have a fresh charge for which we want to arraign him totally different from the earlier charge. There is another charge against him which we don’t want to reveal for now. As I told you, we have been working very closely with the MET police. We have been sharing information and we have issues which we don’t want to go into. We are talking with the Interpol, the MET police and the Dubai police whose custody he is right now. 

My initial reaction when I heard of Ibori’s arrest was that of excitement, and surprise too. Surprise because somebody said he had gone to Ghana. Some people also said he is still somewhere in Delta. Some say he is in his village. Yet some others said he is in Warri. My mind never went to Dubai. But the MET police have relationship with Dubai police. They however assured me that if he is in Dubai,  they will get him, that it will be easier to track him down. If he had gone to places like China or Japan, then it would have been difficult. So you can now understand my excitement. 

EFCC is prepared to prosecute him without leaving any loose end. Before we declared him wanted, we have some charge and we have witnesses and we are prepared on our side. The court is there. Right now, there is a court process he instituted before he fled, challenging the Commission against his arrest and the case has been adjourned to sometime this month. The case is taking place in Asaba; the 170 count charge is taking place at the Appeal Court Benin. 

Reacting to statements credited to Justice Olubunmi Oyewole that if EFCC had done a good job that Bode George would have gotten not less than 10 years sentence, she said Bode George’s case was concluded before she assumed office.   “When a case has been concluded and somebody is aware that the EFCC is after him, he will kind of tamper with evidence, and it will be difficult to start all over. So I worked with all I met, all I did was to dot the I’s and the t’s to be able to prosecute him. 

On why did EFCC did not declare Ibori wanted much earlier, she said ‘this was a man, before I came, he had this case pending, he was arrested and detained in Kaduna prison for two months. He was going to court in Kaduna. He filed a motion that the case be transferred to Asaba. They argued the issue of jurisdiction; that as a Delta state governor for eight years, the jurisdiction should be in Delta state. 

He won and the case was transferred to Delta State. He was going to court, so there was no need to declare him wanted. But based on fresh petition and more evidence that we got through the Metropolitan police and the petitions and also the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, we decided to do another investigation. It never crossed my mind that somebody who is already standing trial and who had been to prison could jump bail. He was a former governor; he filed the motion moving the case to Delta state as he wanted. He went there and the case was quashed, we appealed. I never thought the man would run away.” 

EFCC operatives head to Dubai

Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri said the anti-graft agency has sent operatives to Dubai to help extradite former Governor Ibori who was arrested by the Interpol and Met.

Waziri who gave this hint while fielding questions from some journalists yesterday, said the anti-graft agency operatives were already heading to Dubai to help extradite him, noting that the long arm of the law has eventually caught Ibori in far away Dubai.

The EFCC had in April declared Ibori wanted after several efforts to get him to honour the Commission’s invitation over fresh fraud allegations including a N44 billion scam case against him. The anti-graft agency had earlier secured a court warrant for his arrest and equally put him on a watch list.

Waziri said that Ibori’s arrest might not be unconnected with the search for him by Nigerian security agencies and an international warrant of arrest issued against him by the Met Police in the UK.

Scotland Yard confirms arrest

UK’s Scotland Yard, in an email said, “A 47 year-old man has been arrested today, Thursday, 13 May, by authorities in Dubai on suspicion of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.

“James Onanefe Ibori was detained at the request of the Metropolitan Police Service, MPS, and is due to appear in court in due course. The UK authorities are seeking extradition to the UK.

“A number of people have already been charged in connection with the MPS investigation into money laundering.”

The news of the arrest of the former governor in Dubai, UAE by the Interpol at the request of the London Metropolitan Police Service was made public yesterday.

Reports say he was picked up by the Interpol via a United Kingdom warrant of arrest.

Sources in Dubai said the former governor will be extradited to London to face charges of money laundering.