THE drama of the renewed manhunt for former Delta State Governor, Chief James Onanefe Ibori by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, took a new turn yesterday, as former Federal Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark claimed that Ibori was allegedly planning to kill him.
Also yesterday, hundreds of women from Oghara in Ethiope-West Local Government Area of Delta State marched nude, yesterday, on the streets of the community against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for supposedly witch-hunting their son and ex-Governor, Chief James Ibori.
In a swift reaction, Chief James Ibori, said he was not after the life of elder statesman, as the death of Chief Clark would not be of any benefit to him (Ibori).
Oghara women protest nude against EFCC, Clark
Hundreds of women from Oghara in Ethiope-West Local Government Area of Delta State marched nude, on the streets of the community against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for supposedly witch-hunting their son, ex-Governor James Ibori.
One of the women, Mrs. Roseline Inowo, a housewife and security officer with the Delta State Polytechnic, Oghara who spoke to Vanguard, said: "Our protest is also against that old man, Chief Edwin Clark who does not want to leave our son alone. He is using his closeness with the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to make the EFCC to act his (Clark's) script of intimidating Ibori so as to overrun his political structure and produce an Ijaw governor in Delta state in 2011."
Mrs. Inowo said the women believed that Chief Ibori was being antagonized unjustly by Clark and his group, adding that the nude protest was a traditional curse, transferring the punishment and whatever evil Clark and his collaborators wished Ibori back to them.
Chief Ibori was last seen in Oghara, two weeks ago, but following an unconfirmed report that EFCC officials would storm the community to arrest him, chiefs, elders, youths and women poured into the streets to stop them.
When Vanguard got to the community, there was tension as some travellers called to say that protesting youths barricaded the Benin-City - Warri expressway to checkmate the EFCC officials, but, we could not confirm if officials of the commission actually planned to storm Oghara as speculated.
While the protest was on, Mrs. Oyubu Ibori, who said she was Ibori's aunt told Vanguard: "I have not seen my son, they should leave him alone, I want to see him, where is he, what has he done, why is Clark fighting him."
Ibori's residence was taken over by the protesters when Vanguard got there.
An Oghara leader, Chief Stanley Emoawose who confirmed that he was the leader of the demonstrators said: "We assembled at Ibori'home, to protect our brother's property and his image.
"We heard that EFCC officials were coming here today (yesterday) but we have not seen anybody as at now that you are speaking to me. We know that Chief Clark is using the EFCC against Ibori because an Ijaw man, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is the Acting President. Ibori is one of the 36 ex-governors, why is Clark after him? What has he done to him?
"We are here to protect his property because we don't want them to loot his home and our son is not at home now. We are not the ones that barricaded the Benin-Warri road. We are proud of him and that is why we are here to say no to this witch-hunt sponsored by Clark. He is not an Urhobo leader, he is an Ijaw leader and he should concern himself with Ijaw matters."
Chief Edwin Clark alleged that Ibori's belief was that killing him would silence the voice of opposition in the state and establish firmly his empire.
Clark said: "He also believes my death will weaken his on-going corruption trial by the EFCC through constant adjournment and unwillingness of the state to prosecute the criminal charges against him."
The former minister who said that he got hints, yesterday, from numerous well wishers through telephone calls not to come near Warri through Benin city said the alleged attempt on his life by Ibori was not the first.
He noted: "An attempt was made on my life by Ibori in 2008 and I had to petition President Umaru Yar'Adua, the Inspector-General of Police and other law enforcement agencies who protected my life."
Clark said his only sin was his membership of the Delta State Elders Forum, a pressure group, pushing for Ibori's investigation and prosecution over how he allegedly ran aground the Delta State treasury between 2004 and 2007 including his alleged unauthorized and illegal sales of 520million shares of Delta State in Oceanic Bank.
N44bn loan from Intercontinental Bank
He said the shares were sold to service N44billion loan allegedly obtained from Intercontinental Bank by Ibori's company, Ascot Offshore Nigeria Limited, which bought Willbros, an American company in Port Harcourt.
Clark who said Ibori got his support to contest the governorship seat in Delta State claimed that he never knew that the former governor was convicted overseas for criminal offences, including stealing, both in 1991 and 1993.
His words: "I received series of telephone calls this morning from Sapele and Warri warning me to suspend any travelling from Abuja to Warri via Benin City because of threat from Oghara people to harm me and members of the Delta State Elders Forum.
This is because of our petition to the EFCC to investigate Chief James Onanefe Ibori on the unauthorized and illegal sales of 520 million of Delta State Government shares in Oceanic Bank Plc to service the N44million loan obtained by Chief Ibori's company, Ascot Offshore Nigeria Limited, which bought Willbros, an American company in Port_Harcourt.
The company used 800million shares in Oceanic Bank Plc to secure N44million loan from Intercontinental Bank and sold 500million of these shares to service the loan.
"This morning, 19 April, 2010, the Oghara people blocked the Express Road on both sides between Oghara and Koko junction chanting war songs and carrying several placards some of which bore the inscription: "Clark leave Ibori alone; EFCC, leave Ibori alone, etc., and some of my people who were leaving Warri and Sapele for Benin City had to disguise themselves and return to Warri.
"The move behind the assassination plot against me is not far fetched from the following facts:
"My crusade for EFCC to prosecute ex-Governor James Ibori for the economic crime committed against Delta State and the imposition of his first cousin, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan as Governor in order to cover up his misdeeds in government for eight years.
My opposition against the lack of internal democracy within the state chapter of the PDP and the culture of imposition that have divided the party into two parallel factions.
Ibori's belief that killing me will silence the voice of opposition in the state and establish firmly his illusionary political empire. He has been the de-facto governor of Delta State.
He also believes my death will weaken his on-going trial of corruption by the EFCC through constant adjournment and unwillingness of the state to prosecute the criminal charges against him. These were parts of my petition in 2008.
I'm not after Clark's life - Ibori
Chief James Ibori, reacted to the allegation that he was after the life of elder statesman, Chief E. K. Clark saying that he was not after Chief Clark's life as the chief's death would not be of any benefit to him.
Ibori said in a statement issued by his Media Assistant, Mr. Tony Elemuno: "I will have no benefit whatsoever in any such thing as E.K Clark's death. If there is any threat to his life, it is not from me."
The statement said Chief Ibori was surprised that anybody could take such an allegation serious enough as to ask for his reaction, as according to him, "this is not the first time Clark has made such unfounded claims just to draw attention to himself."
Ibori who is engaged in a running battle with Chief Clark said that government provided the older man with security agents to guard him, the last time he made similar allegation and that perhaps he was repeating same to increase the number of security agents to boost his ego.
On the allegation that placard carrying youths from Ibori's homestead were a threat to his life, Chief Ibori urged his supporters to avoid taking laws into their hands.
His words "It is on record that I have pleaded repeatedly with my supporters and followers never to take the laws into their hands as the courts are there to free a man if he is wrongly accused as Clark has wrongly accused me this time.
"As Clark was making his statement on Monday (today) my lawyers were in court seeking justice for me. That is the part that I have elected to tread; to have recourse to the law courts, if injustice is visited against me. Anything contrary to this is wild allegation."