Posted by By Ise-Oluwa Ige on
AHEAD of the resumption of the identification trial to ascertain whether Governor James Ibori of Delta State is an ex-convict or not, the police in their final report on the investigation of the matter, say the conviction of one James Onanefe Ibori nine years ago by a Bwari Upper Area Court “is incontrovertible.”
ABUJA— AHEAD of the resumption of the identification trial to ascertain whether Governor James Ibori of Delta State is an ex-convict or not, the police in their final report on the investigation of the matter, say the conviction of one James Onanefe Ibori nine years ago by a Bwari Upper Area Court “is incontrovertible.”
“The issue as to whether one James Onanefe Ibori was charged and convicted by the Upper Area Court, Bwari, could not be controverted, especially as the then Upper Area Court Judge, Bwari, Alhaji Awwal Yusuf, consistently maintained that he tried and convicted one James Onanefe Ibori. It could be very difficult for any investigation to controvert the direct evidence of Alhaji Awwal Yusuf,” the Police Inspector-General, Mr. Tafa Balogun, said in the 7th June, 2003 report sent to President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Governor James Ibori’s defence team and supporters have tried to query the authenticity of the police earlier “final report.” But the police last week disowned that report, saying it was not a certified true copy.
In the earlier “report,” the IG purportedly signed as Tafa Balogun CFR, NPM, FWC, MNIM and the report's ref. number was given as CB.4099/IGPSEC/ABJ/MU.11/VOL.1. The report was dated 7th June 2003. It carried no police stamp.
Besides, on page three of the earlier “final report” line three says: “The case file No. 1BK 24/95 was taken over by detectives with the crime diary opened on 4-12-93.”
However, this line is missing from the certified true copy of the report sent by the IG on August 3, to Lagos lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, who is counsel to Messrs Goodnews Agbi and Anthony Alabi, plaintiffs in the suit against Gov. Ibori.
Another fundamental difference between the two reports is that while page 11 of the certified true copy contains a seven-point findings, the earlier “final report” has eight including item II which says “That the case was incidented in police crime diary on 21/9/95 at 1320 hours and charge register No. IBK/24/95 was allocated to the case file.
The IG in the report authenticated also dated 7th June, 2003 signed off with Tafa Balogun NPM, FWC.
Each of the 12 pages of the report carries the police stamp.
With reference to your minute on the letter of complaint from Governor James Ibori of Delta State dated 27th January, 2003, and further to my interim report No. CB.4099/IGP.SEC/ABJ/MU.II/VOL.1 of 14th February, 2003, I forward hereunder police final investigation report on the above-mentioned case referred by your Excellency for detailed investigation.
Facts of the case:
That sometime in January 2003, the complainant, the Executive Governor of Delta State, his Excellency James Onanefe Ibori, stated that a document in circulation entitled “Delta State (Breaking News!!!) James Onanefe Ibori, An Ex-convict - A liberation statement” was brought to his attention.
He, therefore, carried out inquires with a view to determining where the document originated from. That his enquiries revealed that contrary to the claim in the circulated document, the person convicted on First Information Report (FIR) No. CR 81/95 was one Shaibu Anyebe, a security guard at the Municipal Area Council, Abuja, The governor said he suspected a foul play that the document was the handiwork of his political opponents designed to discredit him and ruin his political career.
He alleged that his political enemies altered the court documents and superimposed his name on the proceedings. He named one Chief (Barrister) Andres Oru and Joe Igbuzor as his principal suspects.
A full scale investigation was carried out upon receipt of the petition. The investigation team visited the Divisional Police Headquarters, Bwari, where a case of negligent conduct and criminal breach of trust was allegedly investigated against Shaibu Anyebe who was said to be an Idoma by tribe.
3.1. Statement was recorded from the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) No. 165736 CPL Odumu Mambo, who disclosed that a case of theft of zincs kept at abattoir on 21/9/95 was actually reported by one Mohammed Usman, a security supervisor attached to Abuja Municipal Council against Shaibu Anyebe, a security guard with the council.
The zincs were said to be in the custody of Shaibu Anyebe who could not account for them when needed. He was then charged to Upper Area Court Bwari presided over by one Alh. Mohammed Awwal Yusuf for negligent conduct and criminal breach of trust on First Information Report (FIR) No. CR. 81/95 on 28th September, 1995. The case went through trial and Shaibu Anyebe was convicted.
3.2. Mr. Shaibu Anyebe was traced and he volunteered a statement stating that he was actually charged to Upper Area Court, Bawari, on 28th September, 1995 for negligent conduct and criminal breach of trust.
He confirmed that he was convicted and sentenced to six months imprisonment with option of N500.00 fine which he promptly paid.
3.3. Detectives also visited the Upper Area Court Bawari. There, they obtained copies of court proceedings and other relevant court records relating to the case under investigation.
3.4. The following suspects were also arrested for interrogation: Alh. Mohammed A. Yusuf; - The judge that presided over the case; Musa Garba - Current Registrar of the court; Ibrahim Yau - The then registrar; Jafaru Aliyu - Court clerk
Their statements are summarised as follows:
a.Alhaji Mohammed Awwal Yusuf:
He was transferred from the Ministry of Education, Niger State to the Judicial Service in 1990. He stated that on 28/9/95 while sitting at Upper Area Court Bwari as a judge, the following criminal cases through six FIRs were brought before him by the police. C.O.P vs. James Onanefe Ibori; C.O.P. vs Simone Chukwu; C.O.P. vs Shaibu Anyebe; C. O. P vs Monica Innocent; C. O. P. vs. Moses Odehe and C. O. P. vs Abubakar Adamu.
He said that all the accused persons pleaded guilty, except Monica Innocent. After the completion of the case, one ASP Dauda who was the DCO of the Bwari Police Station, came to his chamber and sought to withdraw the FIR in respect of C.OP. Vs. James Onanefe Ibori.
He said he refused the request on the ground that as a judge by giving judgement he has become functus officio. He further stated that on retrieval of the file at Bwari, he discovered that three out of the six FIRs brought on 28/9/95 were missing while the following court documents were either removed or tampered with by unknown persons: Pages 884 and 885 containing proceedings in respect of Shaibu Anyehe were removed from the criminal record bok; The case numbers tampered with; and the cash book of 1995 containing the names and numbers of cash payment of fine were completely removed.
He further stated that on 20th January, 2003, one Barrister Bala Ngilani through the influence of Major General Sabo (rtd) invited him to see the Governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori, in Abuja in order to discuss how to nullify his conviction. He stated that while there, they showed him the court proceedings of Upper Area Court, Bwari in respect of his case and the governor promised to “take care” of him if he could remove him out of this problem. He suggested to the governor that he should file a civil motion in Upper Area Court, Bwari to invite the Commissioner of Police FCT, Abuja, the Divisional Police Officer Bwari, himself as the judge who presided over the case and the registrar that took the proceedings of that case.
b. Jafaru Aliyu (M):
He was the clerk of Upper Area Court Bwari and his schedule of duties included receiving of FIRs for criminal cases, preparation of daily schedule of cases and calling of such cases in open court for mention/trial.
He confirmed that sometime in the month of September, 1995, an FIR No. CR 81/95 of one Shaibu Anyebe was brought to court. The registrar in-charge of criminal cases gave him the FIR. to register which he did, and read it in the open court. He denied ever seeing the case of James Onanefe Ibori and stated that nobody gave him such FIR to register in the court record book. In his additional statement on 13/2/03 he stated that he failed to disclose that on 28/9/95 six FIRs were brought to him for registration and that they included that of James Onanefe Ibori. He however registered only five FIR’s leaving out that of James O. Ibori, as one PC Haruna Damaye who brought the FIR to the court told him that his DCO wanted it back and he gave it to him.
c. Musa Garba:
He is presently the Registrar of the Upper Area Court Bwari. He stated that sometime in December, 2002, a lawyer by name Chief Andrew O. Oru came to his office and applied for the records and proceedings of CR. 81/95 C.O.P Vs. James Onanefe Ibori. He referred the application to the current judge of Upper Area Court Bwari. Mallam Isah A. Yahaya who approved it.
The record was issued to the lawyer after he paid the necessary fees. He signed and stamped the certified true copy of the said proceedings. He stated that the record of proceedings in the record book was signed by the presiding judge, Alhaji Mohammed Awwal, and another court member, Hon. Kuku Fajemi, with different dates of 28/9/95 and 5/9/95 respectively.
d. Ibrahim Ya’u:
He was the then Registrar of the Upper Area Court Bwari, in charge of criminal matters in 1995. He stated that on 28th September 1995, six new FIRs were received and entered in the cause list. Out of the six FIRs, five of them were registered in the court complaint book.
The sixth FIR in the case of COP Vs. James Onanefe Ibori was not registered. He further disclosed that when he was transferred to Area Court Jiwa, he handed over the criminal records, complaint book and other administrative files including the FIR of the case of COP Vs. James Onanefe Ibori to one Yakubu Sidi, who was then the senior court clerk of the court.
However, when the cause list referred to by the suspect was shown to him, the case of COP Vs. James Onanefe Ibori was not among the cases listed.
e. Kuku Fajemi (M):
He is a member of the Upper Area Court Bwari and his duty according to him, is to give advice on customary cases relating to Gwari culture. He said that he did not play any advisory role during the trial of criminal cases, but if the accused pleads guilty to the charge and the judge passes sentence on him, he normally signs as a court member.
He disclosed that he was aware that the police arraigned one person at that time for negligent conduct and criminal breach of trust in 1995. The complainant was working in Usman Dam. He could not identify the person if seen now and he did not know if the accused person was James Onanefe Ibori or not. Investigation showed that he is an illiterate and can neither read nor write.
Follow up investigation
Based on the facts disclosed by the above-named suspects and after necessary checks, the first report dated 14th February, 2003 was compiled by detectives. The Chief Justice of the Federation was copied the report as some of the court officials were indicted. Consequent upon this, the CJN directed the Chief Judge of FCT, Justice L. H. Gummi, to investigate the role of the indicted court officials.
The Chief Judge carried out an independent investigation and in his report, he noted that “it is obvious that some police officers who were at the relevant time working at the Bwari Police station are deeply involved in the unfortunate plan to destroy the FIR in respect to James Onanefe Ibori after it had been mentioned and he was convicted by taking it away from its proper custodian in the court.”
Consequently, the Chief Judge recommended that Mallam Ibrahim Ya’u and Mallam Jafaru Aliyu, who were the two court officials having both access to and custody of the criminal record book, should be thoroughly investigated, alongside one PC Haruna Damaye who filed the FIR in respect of James Onanefe Ibori in court on 28/9/95, ASP Dauda the Divisional Crime Officer, and police prosecutor, Sunday Musa.
The above facts necessitated further investigation by detectives. Detectives could, however, not obtain statements from PC Haruna Damaye and ASP Dauda, the principal actors, as they are now late. Their interrogation would have enabled detectives follow-up their response and collective roles in the alleged tampering with police records relating to James Onanefe Ibori’s case.
From the investigation carried out so far, the following facts have emerged:
•That on 21/9/95, a case of theft of roofing zincs was reported at Bwari Police Station by one Mallam Mohammed Usman against one Chief Shaibu Anyebe, an Idoma man — working as security guard at Bwari Development Authority Abattoir located at Kogo village and the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) was No. 169736 CPL. Mambo Odum,
•That although a case of theft of zincs was reported against Shaibu Anyebe, investigation later shows that it was a case of negligent conduct and criminal breach of trust, hence based on available evidence, the suspect was charged to Upper Area court Bwari on 29/9/95 on FIR No. CR:81/95. He was found guilty and sentenced to six months imprisonment and option of fine of N500.00 on each count. He promptly paid the fine and was discharged.
The statement of the accused persons obtained on 6/2/2003 attests to this fact. During the interrogation, the Upper Area Court Judge, Alhaji Awwal Yusuf, consistently maintained that he tired and convicted James Onanefe Ibori.
That the court officials of the Upper Area Court, Bwari, Jafaru Aliyu, the court clerk also confirmed in his statement that James Onanefe Ibori was convicted. That Ibrahim Ya’u, senior registrar at the Upper Area Court Bwari, also confirmed that James Onanefe Ibori was convicted.
That the assertion by the Upper Area Court Judge, Alhaji Awwal Yusuf, that two police officers, PC Haruna Damayi and ASP Dauda, attempted to withdraw FIRs in respect of the trial of James Onanefe Ibori could not be ascertained because the two officers are now deceased.
Similarly, the recommendation by the Chief Judge, FCT in his report that PC Haruna Damayi and ASP Dauda be investigated to determine their alleged complicity in tampering with the court records and process could also not be ascertained as the officers are now late.
It is true that the person charged to court on CR: 81/95 on 28/9/95 and convicted was one Shaibu Anyebe who was then a security guard with the Abuja Municipal Council. The issue as to whether one James Onanefe Ibori was charged and convicted by the Upper Area Court, Bwari could not be controverted, especially as the then Upper Area Court Judge, Bwari, Alhaji Awwal Yusuf consistently maintained that he tried and convicted one James Onanefe Ibori.
It would be very difficult for any investigation to controvert the direct evidence of Alhaji Awwal Yusuf, the Upper Area Court Judge that it was James Onanefe Ibori that he tried and convicted.
However, the fact that the DCO, ASP Dauda and the Court Orderly, PC Haruna Damaye are all dead has not helped the investigation.
Above is for your Excellency’s information, Sir.
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