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IBORI:Plea bargain gone awry

Posted by By IKENNA EMEWU on 2007/12/16 | Views: 463 |

IBORI:Plea bargain gone awry


Before the former Delta State governor, Chief James Onanefe Ibori was arrested by the EFCC and consequently arraigned for offending the law 103 times while in power in the state seething and dripping with oil, there had been insinuations and speculations about his fate.

Before the former Delta State governor, Chief James Onanefe Ibori was arrested by the EFCC and consequently arraigned for offending the law 103 times while in power in the state seething and dripping with oil, there had been insinuations and speculations about his fate.

While still in power, Ibori was speculated to be among the 31 governors EFCC claimed were corruption, but that it could not take any action because it was handicapped on their prosecution as a result of the immunity safety banner that shielded them from prosecution.

Plea bargain rumour
It was scandalous when the governors left office that as Nigerians expected to see as many of them as possible reined in that only very few were singled out for prosecution. Many frowned against and questioned the justice behind the EFCC selective incrimination. But there was this seedy story making the rounds that there are former governors who have settled their way through and would at last never be touched.

Ibori was always mentioned among other South South ex-governors who are believed to have bulldozed their way into untouchable status by reason of their heavy financial backing of the Yar’Adua presidential campaign effort.
It was also reported, though unofficially that Ibori had dropped several billions in installments of what could be called installmental blackmail by law enforcement agencies who pinched him from time to time to ‘settle’ or be exposed.
The PDP leadership when Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was still in power was part of this plan according to the sources. That body was said to have enlisted Ibori to drop money for the PDP presidential campaign or risk his freedom.

Sources said the Delta ex-chief doled out some tens of billions to defray the Yar’adua campaign and thought he was home and dry from harassments. But the events of this week and the two or three weeks preceding it seem to have proved him wrong - even though he had the signs coming from the ding dong prosecutions in London courts lately.
Meanwhile, a very reliable presidency source said about two weeks before the arrest, Ibori had series of raw deals with Aso Rock minders who had made it a duty to shield him from President Yar’Adua who is believed to have been a beneficiary of the Ibori wealth through PDP campaign fund. The same source said also that that reception for Ibori at Aso Rock was an ominous sign that the tenuous link of favour that still held the ends from snapping must have been severed, and he might be in deep mess before long.

Debunking bribe allegations
Saturday Sun called a former aide of Ibori’s for comments on the developments around his former boss. Although the ex-aide obliged information, he refused to be associated with the statement.
His position is that Ibori never bribed EFCC or anyone else to stifle and scuttle justice. According to him what EFCC today calls bribes offered them by Ibori were tranches of money dropped by the former governor in line with demands and pestering by EFCC.

“It was a serious blackmail dilemma that had Ibori getting calls from EFCC men from time to time. Every call came with information, no matter the validity, that some N5 has been spotted at location A and traced to him. Another call will come some other time that amount K has been located in investment P and linked to him. In fact the calls always came with the demand of forfeiture or he stands to be arrested. Ibori in response always asked them to have the money if their claims are right”, he said.

He also admitted that ab initio, there was a plea bargain between Ibori and EFCC with a clause that if he surrenders some amount he will not be arrested. I can say now that the parties to the arrangement decided to jettison it, hence this onslaught. Ibori did not offer any bribe, but all those money they claimed to have recovered is now tagged bribe”.

Yet, another source, also an Ibori loyalist denied either plea bargain or bribe from Ibori altogether.
However, EFCC insists Ibori bribed it, and that is the reason it has filed charges including claims that he tried to buy the agency off and escape justice.

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