James Ibori, former Delta state governor, who is currently serving a jail sentence in the United Kingdom, says he does not have any loot in any part of the world.
Reacting to the claim of Abubakar Malami, minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation (AGF) that the federal government will soon recover £6.9m stolen funds frittered away by him, Ibori said it was disappointing that a top government official could make such “misleading statement”.
“There is no Ibori loot anywhere in the world. Such money, whether in British pounds, American dollars or the Nigerian naira just does not exist,” read a statement issued on his behalf by Tony Eluemunr, his media aide.
“This is because the Ibori London trial is not yet over. It is an incontrovertible fact that the confiscation hearing has not started at all, and remains months away into the future. This makes it disappointing that a high official of state such as the attorney-general may have been misled into believing that an Ibori loot not only exists anywhere, but he even put a figure (6.9 million pounds) to it.
“With all due respect to the minister and the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, it is curious that such a misleading statement could have come less than a week that dozens of well-respected foreign media organizations, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), The Times of London, The Guardian of London, and a host of Nigerian news outlets reported that the case against Ibori and his associates have become shaky as some operatives of the London Metropolitan Police have been accused of bribery and corruption in the course of their investigations.
“Thus at the Thursday January 21, 2016 hearing the prosecution was forced to withdraw its case against one of Ibori’s counsels, Mr. Bradesh Gohil. It had charged Gohil of leaking fabricated documents to media organisations and Members of (British) Parliament, but Gohil turned the case against the police, accusing it of misleading the court with tainted evidence from corrupt operatives and of withholding key documents which could have proved police corruption.
“The New Indian Express of Monday 25 January 2016 ventured further than the Times to report that Gohil, who was freed from jail last year, may now challenge his previous conviction, just as Ibori or any of his associates already convicted may also decide to do.”
The statement said based on recent proceedings at the court, all the past convictions of Ibori could be challenged afresh.
It added that Ibori initially felt that the minister was misquoted and delayed his own statement in order to give Malami time to deny the report.
“He assumed that the minister may have been misquoted and so did not issue a rebuttal immediately,” the statement read.
“It was only when he failed to retract the statement after 24 hours that he decided to give Nigerians (including the minister) the true perspective about the Ibori London trial and state categorically that the so called Ibori Loot”
“Mr. Abubakar Malami saw as a “low hanging fruit ripe for plucking” must have been a terrible mirage. This has done nothing though to affect in any way the high regards Chief Ibori and his Media Office have for President Muhammadu Buhari, his administration and Ministers, including the Justice Minister, Mr. Abubakar Malami. Chief Ibori wishes them well in their stated bid to leave Nigeria better than they found it.”