Ibori to AGF; Call EFCC to Order

James IboriIbori’s lawyers write Attorney-General, EFCC

The Former Governor of Delta State, Mr James Onanefe Ibori, has asked the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke SAN, to stop the “manhunt” instigated by the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs Farida Waziri against Ibori.

In a letter the Ibori’s Lawyer, Mr J.B. Daudu, SAN, wrote to the AGF and obtained by, Daudu

asked the AGF, as a “fair constitutional Lawyer”, and in harmony with the rule of law posture of the present administration, to “call the EFCC to order and allow due process to take its course”.

In the letter, also addressed to the EFCC Chairman, Ibori lamented that despite the fact that the EFCC on behalf of the Attorney General has “vigorously investigated every aspect of” Ibori’s tenure as Delta State Governor and “failed to find any crime committed inclusive of allegations of conspiracy, official corruption, diversion and misappropriation of public funds, stealing and money laundering for the period of 29th May, 1999 to May 29th, 2007”; the PUNCH Newspaper of 10th April still carried reports to the effect that  the EFCC “have caused a manhunt to proceed against him on account of certain transactions that took place during his tenure as governor of Delta State particularly the ASCOT-WILBROS matter which the report claimed was re-ignited on the basis of a petition by some Delta elders who had earlier petitioned”.

“It is also a matter of public record that the head of the team of investigators YAHAYA BELLO and contained in his affidavit filed in suit No. FHC/B/CS/862/2007 AG Delta v EFCC &Ors admitted that all these facts had been investigated and the matter charged to court”.

Mr Daudu averred that Ibori had been discharged of all “170 counts of all conceivable offences by Asaba Federal High Court”.

“Being utterly dissatisfied with the decision of the Federal High Court which in essence had absolved our client of any crimes committed against the government and people of Delta State, you appealed to the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal. The matter is at your instance pending before the said court”

He continued: “In very simple terms, what your organisation is doing by seeking to re-investigate a matter you have already investigated and charged to court, and for which the alleged offender has been discharged (which in this instance amounts to an acquittal) amounts not only to an infraction of Nigerian Constitution but is a breach of our clients fundamental human rights.

“Nowhere in the world except of course in some banana republics’ is the rule of law and constitutionalism trampled upon so aggressively as you are doing in this instance”.

“If new facts had arisen not before the Commission at the time of the last trial, that is simply regrettable, and it means that you should have done a thorough job at that time. That is why there exists the rule against Double Jeopardy. In any event, it is neither fair nor decent to criminalise our client on the pages of Newspapers without any formal invitation to clear his name which the courts have already done for him”.

To read the complete letter click here.

It will be recalled that the PUNCH had reported last week that The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has stormed two big banks and quizzed some top officials of the Delta State Government in its bid to establish the veracity of a petition filed against former Governor James Ibori. The anti-graft agency has also launched a fresh manhunt for the former Governor with its operatives now trailing him for arrest.

The paper also said that Ibori is wanted to make a new statement following the fresh petition sent to the EFCC by the Delta State Leaders, Elders and Stakeholders Forum.

In the petition submitted by the DSLEF, led by Chief Edwin Clark, the Forum alleged that Ibori used 800 units of shares owned by the Delta State Government in Oceanic Bank Plc to secure N44bn private loan from Intercontinental Bank Plc during his tenure as governor between 1999 and 2007.

The Punch also reported that EFCC operatives had obtained a statement from Clark in his Abuja residence, during which the former Information Minister shed light on the petition, while forensic auditors had examined the books of the Delta State Government and the two banks in continuation of their investigations.

It was gathered that detectives from the anti-graft agency had visited Asaba, the state capital and took hold of documents relating to the shares and loan transactions from relevant top officials of the government and the banks in a bid to establish the veracity of the claim in the petition written by the DSLEF.

The DSLEF had in the petition to the EFCC alleged that Ibori deployed the 800m units of shares in the acquisition of an American oil services company, Ascot Oil, which currently has its headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The group further alleged that 520m out of the controversial 800m units were sold in questionable circumstance.

Consequently, Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mrs. Farida Waziri, deployed detectives to question the managements of the two banks to establish their connivance or otherwise in the alleged scam.

The PUNCH said Waziri had mandated the detectives to thoroughly examine the records of the state government and the two banks this time around, since it was believed that their officials did not cooperate with the agency in its earlier move to prosecute Ibori for alleged money laundering offences.

“The fresh manhunt for Ibori was to enable him respond in writing to the petition by the Delta Elders Forum’, PUNCH said.

It was, however, gathered that it had not been possible for the detectives to track down Ibori for interrogation on the matter.

According to the PUNCH, an EFCC source said, “Our detectives have visited Asaba and they looked into the records of the state government. Some key officials of the state government were interrogated by our team to enable us stumble on information that could help us in the course of investigation. 

”Our detectives also interrogated the managements of Oceanic and Intercontinental banks to afford them the opportunity to defend their action in the financial scam alleged by the elders of Delta State. The Delta leaders had claimed that 800 million units of shares owned by Delta State Government in Oceanic Bank were tampered with in order to secure a private loan of N44bn from Intercontinental Bank.

”The Delta elders further stated in the petition that the shares were not only mortgaged, but that about 520m out of the 800m shares had been sold in yet uncertain circumstance. The EFCC cannot come into conclusion until our detectives secure the statement of the major players in the deal.

”Our detectives have also launched a manhunt for the former Governor James Ibori because it is quite natural that they must talk to him to enable him to confirm or deny the allegation contained in the petition. The allegations are grievous, and that is why we are looking for ex-governor Ibori to come and give his own side of the story. But sadly, the former governor has failed to make himself available to the detectives.”

Clark confirmed to PUNCH that operatives of the anti-graft agency had obtained his statement on the petition against Ibori. But he declined further comment.

”Some men from the EFCC have visited my house in Abuja and we exchanged information on the petition we wrote to the commission on the financial malpractices perpetuated by Ibori in the administration of the state, but I don‘t want to speak further on the matter,” Clark said.