James Ibori Helped Me Lobby For Inspetor General of Police Post In Nigeria-Former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crime Commission, Malam Nuhu Ribadu has claimed that former governor of Delta State, Mr James Ononofe Ibori once helped him to lobby for the post of Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police prior to the death of former President Shehu YarA’dua as the new president was sworn in 2007.
Giving an unbiased assessment of James Ibori, the former EFCC Chairman described him as an amiable gentleman who means well for the Nigerian nation.
He was answering questions from the defense counsel Ivan Kronic in the on-going hearing of the confiscation of Asset case proceeding at a London Crown Court.
According to Ribadu, the former governor might have pleaded guilty to some of the charges against him, ‘he is an amiable gentleman who means well‘.
Ribadu owned up to Ibori’s good nature and character as he(Ribadu) gave evidence at the court hearing on the confiscation case at the Southwark Crown Court in South-East London.
He had been detailed to give evidence about a $15m bribery allegation he made against Ibori which has been part of evidence as the confiscation of Asset case continued.
Ribadu gave a glowing account and tributes about Ibori in an unbiased manner that portrayed him(Ribadu) as a fair minded public officer and Nigeria’s once top security operator.
He held many people in the court spellbound as he painted Ibori in good light and described him as having nursed the ambition to be Nigeria’s president, before his current circumstances.
He claimed James onanefe Ibori may have pleaded guilty to some of the charges against him, he may remain in a UK Prison for another 2 years, but he is a kind hearted person.
As the question and answer session continued, the following conversation ensured:
QC Krolic: would you say that Mr Ibori was a potential candidate for presidency in Nigeria?
Ribadu: James told me that if not for this case, he has the potentials to be president.
QC Krolic: Did you believe that?
Ribadu: Not at all.
QC Krolic: were you a presidential candidate yourself?
QC Krolic: you were not a successful presidential candidate.
Ribadu described James Ibori as a man of the people who always influence those around him positively, quoting: “James is a gentleman, he is very friendly, very persuasive and cordial with people around him’. He is a very influential man. We both have same circle of friends and meet at almost same places very often.
Asked further by QC Krolic, Ibori’s counsel, to mention those places they normally meet, Ribadu said ‘ the president’s office, airports and other casual friends’s places.
Surprised that Ribadu told the court that he and Ibori use to meet at Ibori’s friends’ places, QC Krolic felt agitated and questioned the credibility of the claim, to which Ribadu retorted: ”Yes, Abuja is a very small place. Besides these are people in government that I also relate with constantly’.
Ribadu also was homely to talk about Ibori calling him by his first name to indicate how close their rapport use to be throughout the time of the court cross examination. He told the court further that he used to relate to the former governor a lot as they both used to speak very often on the phone.
He claimed: “James will call my phone and I will answer him’. He used to call me IG (inspector General of Police)….’he would tell me he meant well for the country”.
In an affidavit sworn to by James Ibori, he said of Ribadu : ”Mr Ribadu covertly joined in the efforts to nullify the presidential elections of Yar’Adua at the tribunal because the president, Musa Yar’Adua, has declined overtures by Mr Ribadu to clinch the coveted job of Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, IG,’ Ibori continued in the affidavit to say ‘Ribadu approached me to speak to the new president to appoint him the IG of police of Nigeria. I promised to help take his message to Mr President. I did subsequently mention Mr Ribadu’s request to President Yar’Adua, but the president turned it down’.
Ribadu’s account of James Ibori under oath sworn to, using the Koran, showed James Onanefe Ibori as a gentleman. He claimed they both had same circle of friends.
According to Ribadu, James Ibori was always cordial with people, especially those very close to him holding them very intimately and would always give help at will, a trait Ribadu claimed had endeared him to get closer to Ibori.
Ribadu’s account in court while being cross examined, confirmed Ibori’s statement: “’James used to call me IG’.
A visibly shaking Ribadu under cross examination was rescued several times by Judge Pitts who helped him,( Ribadu) to simplify QC Krolic’s questions.
QC Krolic during cross examination had apparently been angered as Ribadu style of responding to questions under cross examination, having given different accounts of same incident within the period of the cross examination, especially when he was unable to give the date of the alleged bribery, the people that were present at the time of him being given the bribes and his account of how he lost his brief case containing the notes of his alleged bribery conversation with Ibori, which he first said ‘2007’ and later ‘2008’ and later said ‘everything happened in 2008’. He however attributed the slur to the distance years saying ‘it has been a long time, I may not have an accurate recollection‘, QC Krolic asked Ribadu, with mild element of anger in his tone ‘Do you understand me at all ?”
Ribadu with ‘smiles’ depicting frustration replied ‘yes sir….yes sir’
Judging by the ongoing portrayal of Ibori, his case could have been the circumstantial case of an unlucky person, a powerful Ijaw man, who to many adversaries has the potentials to become Nigeria’s president but too close to the presidency and perceived as a threat by some other powerful individuals whose way he was blocking with his enormous influence?
Ribadu himself in several news interviews have always been quoted as saying that” ‘James Ibori is not the worst corrupt politician in Nigeria, there are several more corrupt public officials than him who are still moving about in Nigeria as Kings’.
What ever happens, according to QC Krolic, ‘the $15m referred to by Ribadu is Nigeria government’s money and now in Nigeria government’s coffers as many close to the government used to frame Mr Ibori for whatever reason that is best known to them’.
The confiscation hearing continues for another 2 weeks.