Friday, 15 January 2016

Breaking News: Ibori Set To Return To Nigeria

James Ibori, the former governor of Delta state, is set to be released from prison in London, the UK, in 2016.

The Nation reports that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and associates of his predecessor are preparing for his release from prison.

Ibori was jailed in 2012, two years after he was arrested by the Interpol in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate, where he was hiding after fleeing Nigeria.

It would be noted that despite allegations of corruption, his trial and jail, the ex-governor still enjoys some support of a section of the state, especially within his Urhobo ethnic nationality.

His close friends and supporters had reportedly begun moves to resuscitate his businesses and stalled projects across the country to reintegrate him into the “system”.

Okowa, on his part, is said to be in constant touch with Ibori hrough intermediaries regularly sent to the UK.

When contacted, Jackson Ekwugum, the communication manager to the governor, declined to comment on the matter. However, a close source to the government revealed that Okowa’s emissaries to Ibori included a former chairman of the state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), an influential member of the State Transition Committee and an official of the state organ which manages 13% revenue accruing to oil communities.

“Ibori was instrumental to Okowa’s emergence as the candidate of the PDP as well as victory in the April governorship election. The governor is only showing his gratitude by giving Ibori’s allies key positions in his State Executive Council.

“Ms Erhiatake (‘Take) Ibori, daughter of the former governor, a first-time member of the House of Assembly, stunned political analysts when she emerged the chairman of the influential House Committee on Finance and Appropriation.

“The Managing Director of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Chief Williams Makinde, is a protégé of the former governor, who was instrumental to his emergence as DESOPADEC’s chief. Apart from being from Ibori’s clan, their relationship runs deep and it was Ibori who single-handedly made Makinde the National Treasurer of the PDP,” the source said.

Speaking with journalists, a worker of Ibori’s Western Delta University in Oghara, said that the institution was getting “assistance” from the state government.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added: “We have been assured that things will improve when our Oga returns to the country. We are beginning to see the signs.”

Meanwhile, there are indications that the former governor may face further trial in Nigeria when he returns. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is reportedly planning to appeal his controversial acquittal by an Asaba Court in 2009.

Earlier this month, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria has spoken out about the Ibori case and revelaed when the stolen loot could be returned to Nigeria.