FORMER Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, who was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, was, according to reports, arraigned in a Dubai court yesterday morning and subsequently granted bail.
Media Assistant to the former Governor, Tony Elumunor, in a statement, subsequently gave a graphic account of how Ibori was arrested and how he was placed on bail.
Meantime, UK’s Scotland Yard, yesterday, in an email said: “A 47-year old man has been arrested today, Thursday, 13 May, by authorities in Dubai on suspicion of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.”
However, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, said that the anti-graft agency had sent operatives to Dubai to help extradite the former Governor.
At Oghara, the country home of the former governor, the situation was calm despite news of his arrest in Dubai.
My arrest story — Ibori
A statement signed by the former Governor’s media assistant, Tony Elumunor, gave his account of the arrest in Dubai as follows: “Chief James Onanefe Ibori walked out of a Dubai court this morning (yesterday) on bail, after having been arrested on Wednesday. He was in a hotel room by 9.00 p.m., Wednesday, when some agents walked into his room, introduced themselves as acting on behalf of Interpol, saying he was wanted in London.
“When Ibori asked why he was wanted in London, they said over credit card fraud. When Ibori replied that he had not been to London since 2005, they modified the reason and said he was wanted for theft. So Ibori said that as they were not sure of the charge, he would not go with them to London. So they took him to a Police station instead.
“The following day, Thursday, 13 May, he was taken to court where he was granted bail, and he was allowed to go free.
“He has asked his supporters, aides, friends and political associates not to be unduly bothered about the ordeal he is going through as the rule of law is always there to protect any victim of persecution – as I am presently being persecuted owing to my political belief.
“He has also accused his political enemies in Nigeria and their United Kingdom co-conspirators of declaring him wanted over charges that have not yet been made public just to influence the outcome of the case against some of his associates in a London court.
“That case has gone on for months, and is on its final stretch now and judgment should be given within days. The Prosecution has since closed its case while the defence will make their closing statement on Friday, 14 May. That is why both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and their London Metropolitan Police collaborators have renewed their malicious legal battering against me for no reason whatsoever.
“It is on record that up till this moment, both agencies have not been able to categorically state the charges they have against me – whether individually or collectively.”
Eluemunor said that Ibori has urged his followers to take solace in that fact that those who denigrated his name by alleging that he was fleeing from the law, while he was actually under the protection of the Federal High Court, Asaba ruling, would no longer make such a claim.
He quoted Ibori as saying: “Today, the question where is Ibori, has been laid to rest. I am in Dubai and the world knows it.”
EFCC operatives head to Dubai
Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri said the anti-graft agency has sent operatives to Dubai to help extradite former Governor Ibori who was arrested by the Interpol and Met.
Waziri who gave this hint while fielding questions from some journalists yesterday, said the anti-graft agency operatives were already heading to Dubai to help extradite him, noting that the long arm of the law has eventually caught Ibori in far away Dubai.
The EFCC had in April declared Ibori wanted after several efforts to get him to honour the Commission’s invitation over fresh fraud allegations including a N44 billion scam case against him. The anti-graft agency had earlier secured a court warrant for his arrest and equally put him on a watch list.
Waziri said that Ibori’s arrest might not be unconnected with the search for him by Nigerian security agencies and an international warrant of arrest issued against him by the Met Police in the UK.
She said: “Yes, we have been working on the former governor. It has been confirmed that Ibori was arrested by the Interpol. We have been exchanging information and interacting with the Interpol and the MET police since we declared him wanted. International warrant of arrest was also issued. Yesterday, he was arrested and he is undergoing interrogation with them there.
The man in charge of his case in the UK has dispatched detectives to Dubai and we are sending our own people to join them to start the process for his extradition. We also have our cases against him here pending. That is the good news.
“We have a case against him in the Appeal Court, Benin, the 170 count charges. We appealed, the case came up and he was not there. Two, we have fresh charges for which we want to arraign him totally different from the earlier charges.
There are other charges against him which we don’t want to reveal for now. As I told you, we have been working very closely but quietly with the Met police. We have been sharing information and we have issues which we don’t want to go into. We are talking with the Interpol, the Met police and the Dubai police whose custody he is right now.
“My initial reaction when I heard of Ibori’s arrest was that of excitement, and surprise too. Surprise because somebody said he had gone to Ghana. Some people also said he is still somewhere in Delta, some say in his village in Warri. My mind never went to Dubai. But the Met police have a relationship with Dubai police. They told me that if he is in Dubai they will get him that it will be easier to track him down. If he had gone to places like China or Japan, and then it would have been difficult. I was very excited.
“EFCC is prepared to prosecute him without leaving any loose end. Before, we declared him wanted, of course to arraign him. We have some charges and we have witnesses and we are prepared on our side.”
Scotland Yard confirms arrest
UK’s Scotland Yard, in an email said, “A 47 year-old man has been arrested today, Thursday, 13 May, by authorities in Dubai on suspicion of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.
“James Onanefe Ibori was detained at the request of the Metropolitan Police Service, MPS, and is due to appear in court in due course. The UK authorities are seeking extradition to the UK.
“A number of people have already been charged in connection with the MPS investigation into money laundering.”
The news of the arrest of the former governor in Dubai, UAE by the Interpol at the request of the London Metropolitan Police Service was made public yesterday.
Reports say he was picked up by the Interpol via a United Kingdom warrant of arrest.
Sources in Dubai said the former governor will be extradited to London to face charges of money laundering.
Calm in Oghara
OGHARA, the country home of former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori was calm, yesterday, despite news of the arrest of the former governor in Dubai.
There was unconfirmed report that tension had mounted in the town, and that residents were demonstrating but when Vanguard visited the community, the people were going about their normal duties, oblivious of the fact that Ibori had been picked up overseas by security agents.
An indigene of the town told Vanguard: “It’s a wicked lie for somebody to say there is tension in Oghara. As I speak to you now, I am in Oghara and there is relative peace. You can see that there is peace here. We are peace-loving people and won’t do anything to disturb public peace.”
He, however, said the people were watching the development and hoping that the story of Ibori’s arrest would turn out to be false.
But the chairman of the central working committee of the Delta Elders, Leaders and Stakeholders Forum, DELSF, Dr. Richard Tosanwumi said his prayer was that Ibori’s arrest should be true.
Tosanwumi said it was unfortunate the former governor declared himself a fugitive and ran away from Nigeria.”