Ibori-Ribadu row: $15m with CBN, says EFCC

The $15million cash in dispute between former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman Nuhu Ribadu and former Delta Governor James Ibori is still with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), The Nation reports. Ribadu said he deposited the money in the CBN to serve as a proof that the former Governor actually offered him a bribe.

But neither the CBN nor the Federal Government could explain the status of the money – whether it was a bribe or a vote for former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s failed third term project?

Ribadu has, in a witness statement to the London Metropolitan Police, claimed that Ibori offered the $15milion as bribe to cover up his track.

Ribadu said he deposited the money in the CBN to serve as a proof that the former Governor actually offered him a bribe.

But Ibori, in a statement on Monday, said he did not bribe Ribadu and the fact that the ex-EFCC chairman deposited $15million in CBN could not be a proof that he gave the money to him.

Investigation by The Nation yesterday revealed that the money is still with the CBN.

A top official of the anti-graft commission, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The $15m is in the CBN and we have records to show the acknowledgement by the apex bank.

“In fact, a Desk Officer from the CBN, Mr. James Garba, who was posted to the EFCC, took inventory of the fund before passing it over to the apex bank.

“If you go to the Federal High Court, Asaba, all the relevant documents relating to the $15million are attached to the charges against Ibori. The correspondences between the EFCC and the CBN are also parts of the court papers.

“The Investigating Police Officer, who handled the matter, is still in the EFCC.

“It is left to the court to determine whether the $15million was a bribe money or not.”

At press time, the Federal Government was not willing to talk on the matter.

All the officials contacted kept mute over the whereabouts of the money, the status of the cash and what will become of it.

The issue for determination between the warring parties is whether the money was for bribery or the crashed third term project.

A highly-placed source in CBN said: “We are not interested in commenting on the matter because it could distract the attention of the Governor of CBN, Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

“No matter what the CBN says, either of the two sides will accuse the apex bank of bias. We don’t want to join the fray. We won’t talk now at all.

“At the appropriate time when the tension is down and the situation is devoid of politics, we will talk.”

A top official in The Presidency also said: “This case has nothing to do with the Federal Government; you can go to CBN where the money is kept.

“Did anyone tell you that the controversial fund belongs to the Federal Government? The government is, however, monitoring development on the controversy trailing the $15million because of its commitment to the anti-corruption war.”

CBN spokesman Mallam Mohammed Abdullahi described the issue between Ibori and Ribadu as personal.

The CBN has no comments, he said.

Source; The Nation