15 April 2010

Nigeria: Come Out of Hiding, EFCC Tells Ibori

Lagos — Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday said former Delta State governor Chief James Ibori should be courageous enough and come out of his hiding, as the commission had been looking for him for over four weeks now.

It will be recalled that on Tuesday, the EFCC declared Ibori wanted over allegations of converting shares belonging to the Delta State government to and selling such to obtain a personal loan.

But Ibori in a statement denied receiving any summons from the commission.

However, the EFCC yesterday in a statement by its Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Babafemi, said Ibori was hiding and was aware that the commission had been looking for him for sometime now.

Part of the statement read: "Ibori knows quite well that the EFCC has been looking for him for interrogation for over four weeks.

"When it was becoming increasingly difficult to locate him, the commission decided to get in touch with officials of Delta State government to extend our invitation to the former governor through them.

"Precisely on March 22, our operatives investigating the case involving Ibori visited Delta and met with state officials in government house, Asaba to help the commission get in touch with Ibori to honour our invitation.

"Through the same state officials, Ibori got back to our operatives on March 25, to ask that our operatives should return to Delta to interview him in the government house instead of him coming to the EFCC office, Abuja.

"The leadership of the commission rejected the trap and insisted Ibori should honour our invitation by coming to our office in Abuja.

"It is obvious that Ibori has gone into hiding since then. And as such, our decision to declare him wanted was based on our previous contacts with him and not on the letters being referred to in the advertorial.

"We also like to state that it is presumptuous to express concerns about the commission re-investigating a matter for which Ibori had earlier been discharged by a court in Asaba. Our invitations to Ibori has nothing to do with the case decided by the Asaba court as the commission has already appealed that ruling. We need him to answer questions based on fresh allegations bordering on official corruption and money laundering."

Meanwhile, Ibori has refuted what he called curious claims that the agency invited him by "proxy" to answer certain questions in their office. In a statement yesterday by his Media Assistant, Tony Eluemunosr, he said: "There was never a time that any invitation was passed on to me through third parties, so I stand on my earlier grounds that the claim that EFCC ever invited me until I received a letter delivered to my Lagos house on Tuesday, is a wicked lie. This is because no government agency worth its salt would even contemplate inviting anyone for questioning through messages allegedly given to third parties. "

Ibori said all the claims of invitation by proxy do not detract from the fact that there are well-known procedures of inviting someone for questioning. He said such procedures were not followed in this case when the announcement that he had been declared wanted was made last Tuesday."

This came on the heels of the restraint yesterday on EFCC, by an Asaba High Court from arresting Ibori.

Joined as respondents, are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Director of the State Security Service (SSS).

In the ex-parte motion filed by Chief Ibori's counsel Augustine Alegeh (SAN) on April 12, he prayed the court to stop the applicant's harassment pending the hearing and determination of the applicant's substantive suit

Presiding Judge, Justice I N Buba ordered that the motion on notice be served on all Respondents, before ordering that the motion on notice be taken on the 19th April 2010.

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