Simon Kolawole, in “The Welcome Party For Ibori” article (THISDAY newspaper of Sunday December 25, 2016), decried the massive celebrations Chief James Onanefe Ibori’s release from UK jail elicited. He adjudged the celebrations “spontaneous and sincere” but listed several reasons he found them appalling, thus repeating the falsehoods the manipulated mass media has been unleashing against Ibori. In “Why Supporters Celebrated Ibori’s Release” (backpage of 1st January 2017 THISDAY newspaper), I relied on court records alone to show the documentary evidence the Nigerian judiciary relied on to conclude that the Bwari Upper Area Court judgment that claimed to have convicted one James Onanefe Ibori was a forgery. A case concerning Shuabu Anyebe, a night watchman, who could not account for two bundles of zinc, was doctored to read James Ibori and the amount changed from N10,000 to N110 million.
I left one salient issue untouched: those behind the forgeries and what compelled their action. The ex-convict case was the takeoff plot against Ibori; other plots continued when it failed until Ibori was forced to flee Nigeria to save his endangered life. But why the plots?
Ahead of 2003 General Elections, Ibori hosted 15 of the 21 Peoples Democratic Party Governors at the Delta State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja and they agreed to oppose former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s re-nomination owing to his dictatorial and vindictive tendencies against independent-minded politicians. From there, Ibori led the delegation of Governors (including Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and Bonnie Haruna) to inform the then PDP National Chairman, Audu Ogbeh, of the decision by 2am. Ogbeh informed Obasanjo immediately.
From that November 2002 night till just two days to the January 2003 PDP Annual Convention, the coalition of 15 Governors held and had a breakfast meeting with Obasanjo and the PDP leadership, where Vice President Atiku Abubakar told Obasanjo that he was very dictatorial, vindictive and unforgiving. Obasanjo appealed for support and promised to change; he got a reprieve.
I told Ibori at the 2003 PDP convention that Obasanjo would never forgive him for the “failed coup”. When Ibori congratulated Obasanjo for his re-nomination, which came after the Governors had relented and supported him, Obasanjo told him that he (Ibori) had canvassed the view that “I Obasanjo was unsellable, unmarketable, and unelectable, all your life I will make you Ibori unsellable, unmarketable and unelectable”.
So, when three weeks after the convention, the ex-convict allegation arose, its source was clear. When the controversial court case ended in Ibori’s favour and Ibori went to Aso Rock to tell Obasanjo of his victory, Obasanjo fired off a Yoruba proverb: “If the bullet that was meant to kill a person grazes his head, the person should go and thank God.” Ibori realized that the case was meant to kill him politically, but he didn’t suspect other “bullets” would follow.
Anthony Alabi and Andrew Oru, plaintiffs in the Ibori ex-convict case, were just pawns. In PDP’s lawyer, J. C. Obialor’s presence, Alabi confessed; but I’ll save the exact details for my book: “The March of Justice; The Whole Truth of The Ibori Ex-Convict Case.” Aso Rock instigated the ex-convict conspiracy, with a serving Anambra State senator cum Obasanjo’s boy’s direct sponsorship, with the knowledge of a past anti-graft agency chief from Adamawa State. A single-term House of Reps member from Edo State, a lawyer, reviewed the forged documents and okayed them as sufficient for PDP to stop Ibori, but Ogbeh disappointed them by insisting on only a court pronouncement to stop Ibori. And that pronouncement cleared Ibori.
Kolawole wrote on the ex-convict case: “The then Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Tafa Balogun, finally gave Ibori a clean bill.” Wrong: IGP Balogun joined the gang-up against Ibori. Assistant Police Commissioner, Ahmed Fari Yusuf, after investigation, called the Bwari judgment a forgery as Ibori could never have been arraigned as the case wasn’t reported in any Police Station, had no complainant, no Investigating Police Officer, etc, but that Shuaibu Anyebe’s case was doctored to appear like Ibori’s.
Then he arrested the lay Judge of that Bwari court for forgery and announced he would unearth his sponsors. Then someone got Balogun to order that the judge be released and issue a second report, which now held that Ibori was actually convicted, though no new evidence emerged from any new investigation. Though Ibori’s lawyers subpoenaed Balogun to bring some documents, he totally refused. That explains this statement from Ibori’s lawyer, Paul Milton Ohwovoriole, in court: “We asked for Police Case File on Case No. CR 81-95. Two: FIR of 81-95. Three: Statement of accused in Case No. 81-95. Four: Copy of Ibori’s petition to the President, copied to the Inspector General of Police. Five: Report of 14th February 2003. Where is that report?”
Balogun’s representative, AIG Columbus Okiro, replied: “That is not here. We have the reply of the Inspector-General to the President of 8th June 2004.”
That report was another crude forgery as the letter-head paper bore the Commander of the Federal Republic National Honours title that Balogun did not receive until December 8, 2004 – exactly six months ahead of the date on the letter. So Balogun was against Ibori.
Kolawole wrote: “EFCC, under Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, was a potent instrument in the hands of Obasanjo in the anti-graft crusade. The war was unquestionably selective and vindictive — but there were no trumped-up charges.” My reply: Yes, Obasanjo used Ribadu and EFCC as terrorists against his political opponents. And there were trumped up charges aplenty. The Cable, Kolawole’s online medium, published this: “EXCLUSIVE: Ribadu has begged me, says Atiku.” Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says Nuhu Ribadu, has apologised to him for the allegations of corruption the anti-graft agency leveled against him in 2006. He said when Ribadu was running for president in 2011, he came and asked him for forgiveness over the episode which damaged the former VP politically.
Atiku said: “I asked him, ‘Nuhu, I forgive everyone, and I forgive you, but will you go back to the public and apologise about all the lies you told about me?’ He was then concerned about his reputation. Of course, I was wondering if he cared about my own reputation when he was bearing false witness against me and illegally locking my friends up trying to force them to generate evidence of corruption against me. Atiku maintained that the corruption allegations against him were politically motivated because of his face-off with Obasanjo.”
The Cable added: “Although Atiku got the indictment(s) quashed in the court and eventually contested in the (2007) election, however, Atiku came out of the PDTF affair with the public image that he was a corrupt politician, a perception that many see as his albatross till today.” This albatross is even truer of Ibori, all because of Obasanjo’s political vendetta.
Yet, the real evidence of Ribadu’s vindictiveness and trumped up charges comes from Nasir el-Rufai’s “Accidental Public Servant” book, page 358, in a section entitled “Umaru Asks Nuhu for Support: the Beginning of Our Trouble” he wrote that Ribadu was so maddened that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had favoured Yar’Adua above Nasir-el-Rufai to succeed him as President in 2007 that he told Yar’Adua to his face: “as far as the presidency is concerned, I have my candidate for president, and that is El-Rufai”. El-Rufai continued on page 359: “(Ribadu) dusted off all the files against Umaru and launched investigations. He was clearly trying to take Yar’Adua out of the race and narrow all options to zero except for El-Rufai”. El-Rufai then told Ribadu that he was after Yar’Adua for no concrete reason but because “I am your friend.”
So, Yar-Adua would never have appointed a power-maddened Ribadu, who vindictively arrested Katsina state’s LGA chairmen on trumped up charges that were later dropped, to remain as EFCC Chairman. Yar’Adua having personally experienced the evil in Ribadu’s EFCC, wanted to end it. So, he needed no recommendation from Ibori and Dr. Bukola Saraki to do so.
Kolawole wrote: “Ibori was arrested at the Kwara state governor’s lodge in Abuja.” This is another lie!
Wednesday, 12th December 2007, two EFCC agents entered the Kwara Governor’s Lodge and told Saraki’s Aide de Camp (ADC) that they came to arrest Ibori. Without contacting his Governor, the ADC asked for warrant of arrest; the EFCC officials had none. So, the ADC asked them to leave for he would not allow them arrest any soul without a warrant.
When the intruders left, the ADC went to brief his principal. Then as Ibori and his host could not reach Ribadu to confirm what was going on, they called Ribadu’s friend, Andy Uba, who promised to contact Ribadu. The three agreed to meet in Uba’s house.
Ibori and Saraki met Ribadu’s deputy, Ibrahim Lamorde, at Uba’s house and when Ibori asked why EFCC agents were after him in the streets when they knew his house or could have phoned him to come, Lamorde replied that Ribadu was waiting for Ibori in the office to explain matters. At 1pm, Ibori drove the Peugeot 406 car that was being used by his aides to the EFCC headquarters, Abuja, with Lamorde on the front passenger seat.
Then Ribadu asked Ibori to phone President Umaru Yar’Adua. “Tell him that I am about to arrest and arraign you in court. Ask him to discuss with me. If he asks me to set you free, I will willingly do that. But I need to talk with him.” An angry Ibori told Ribadu that his threatened arrest had gone on long enough and he would defend himself and prove that the allegations being leveled against him were products of malice. He told Ribadu that their years of friendship had taught him one big lesson; that the file he usually had under his armpit while threatening people were usually empty.
At 4pm, I issued a statement: that Ibori drove himself that afternoon into EFCC headquarters after a telephone conversation with Ribadu. That earlier that day, some EFCC agents had trailed Ibori to the Kwara State Governor’s Lodge, saying they wanted to arrest him, but couldn’t because they lacked a warrant of arrest to convince Saraki’s ADC of the legality of their mission, after which Ibori and his host drove to Uba’s house where they met Lamorde waiting. After Lamorde had called Ribadu on the phone it was agreed that Ibori should come into the EFCC office for a discussion. I added that Ibori was yet to emerge from the EFCC office and there were fears that he may be under arrest.
Reacting to my statement, journalists began to phone to clarify the discrepancy between the detail I gave on Ibori’s arrest and EFCC’s version from Osita Nwaja; that EFCC agents found and arrested Ibori while he was in hiding in Kwara State Governor’s Lodge. He had added that EFCC was still trying to ascertain the role Saraki played in helping Ibori to evade arrest. Mr. Solomon Udele, Ibori’s former Police ADC, called Saraki’s ADC and Kwara state issued its own statement. So the following day’s newspapers had three versions of the same single event; how Ibori was arrested. Kwara’s and mine agreed that Ibori was not arrested in their Lodge. EFCC lied in its version to manufacture reasons to convince a court to deny Ibori bail. Court manipulation!
The SUN newspaper was even misled into publishing that earlier that day the EFCC gallantly stopped Ibori from sneaking into a private jet whose engine was already running on the tarmac of the Abuja Airport .
Kolawole wrote the sixth lie in a single article: “Season Three, I call it ‘The Journey’, started in 2010 when the government of President Goodluck Jonathan re-opened the case and Ibori, in an attempt to escape another trial, ran to Dubai”. No, Ibori did not flee Nigeria over any case. He left because some people wanted to kill him. Who were these people? The story continues next Saturday.
. Eluemunor, Ibori’s Media Assistant, lives in Abuja.