Friday, December 17, 2010

James Ibori As A case Study

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The British police have finally secured a victory in their quest to extradite the former governor of Delta state, Chief James Onanefe Ibori to Britain to answer to charges bordering on corruption. The police were given the nod by the Dubai appeal court which ruled in their favour that the former governor has a case to answer in Britain and could be extradited.

This development has brought an end to the drama that has been unfolding since the former Delta state number one citizen was first charged to court in Nigeria on grounds of corruption. The case was manipulated to the consternation of the average Nigerian citizen who watched as the case was politically influenced and eventually the governor was let off the hook since there were no conclusive evidences to nail him.

The new case of corruption against him came up after he finished his tenure as the governor of the state. He was declared wanted by the EFCC and the police to come and answer to charges of corruption levelled against him. He escaped through the back door as he was said to have used to services of some militants to prevent the EFCC from arresting him. He eventually escaped to Dubai where he has been taking solace.

He was said to have stolen several Billions of naira as the first citizen of Delta state; he was also alleged to have converted several millions of shares the state owned in Oceanic bank to his personal use. His wife Nkoyo Ibori was also alleged to have acted as a medium for him to use the stolen money to buy houses outside the shores of Nigeria. She has already been sentenced to a 5-year jail term by the British court.

When Ibori’s case first came up in Nigeria, Nigerians expected him to be easily nailed by the anti-graft agency; but as the days went by it became clear that he had used his political influence to his advantage. First a man surfaced from nowhere to declare that he was James Onanefe Ibori and that he was the person who committed the crime for which Ibori was being tried. The coincidence of names was too much for any right thinking person to accept – same first, middle and last name.

Secondly, his files could not be properly traced; his name was either entered into the log book of the court but missing from the judgment book or present in the log book but missing from the judgment book in the various courts he was formerly tried.

Besides, all the people who handled his case were said to have died and so there was no way to put the records straight. He thought he had played a smart one Nigerian who believed that one day justice would come from God.

The world is watching again to see if his files would be mysteriously missing this time around or if the principal witnesses would be all dead by the time his trial in the British court comes up after he might have been extradited. Bob Marley once said that “You can fool some people some of the times, but you can’t fool all the people all the time”.

Ibori’s case should serve as a warning to those in power who are feeding fat on public funds that they will give an account to the people one day. This should also make politicians realize that they can’t enjoy parliamentary immunity for ever.

Kudos to the British government for taking the bulls by the horns to help curb the excesses of Nigerian politicians who feel they could loot public treasuries without being questioned. Since the Nigerian government has refused to make elected leaders answerable to the electorates, the foreign countries are beginning to teach them how to do so.

Nigeria is blessed with crude oil and several solid mineral resources; but after over 50 years of oil exploration the country still ranks among the poorest in the world in terms of infrastructural development. The leaders have plundered the wealth of the country, leaving the majority of the people struggling to take care of their three square meals daily.

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