By Oscarline Onwuemenyi &Â Martina Okeke
LAGOS â€” THE verbal exchange between former Governor of Delta state, Chief James Ibori and former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, is far from over, as Ibori yesterday, lashed out on Ribadu, calling him a serial liar.
Ribadu, on his part, challenged Ibori to return his alleged loot to the state coffers and make peace with God.
Chief Ibori, in a press release yesterday, said: â€œRibadu engaged self-glorification in his press statement published on September 27, 2009, taking an ignoble flight of fancy instead of addressing the issues I raised in my media chat of the preceding Friday, which, by the way, did not focus solely on Ribadu. The indecorum and name-calling in his language was not surprising too, they have combined to become the Ribadu signature tune.
I never bribed Ribadu
â€œYes, I maintain that I never, repeat never, bribed or attempted to bribe Ribadu, who, always loose with the facts,Â tried to hoodwink the public by alleging that I was speaking after two years of being investigated. Yet, the bribery allegation I reacted to publicly, was the one he made in a witness statement in London as recently as August 26th, 2009.
I had to reply to that one publicly because, as Ribadu himself knows, that allegation will not be tested by any trial, as no charge whatsoever, whether related to that bribery allegation or not, has ever been leveled against me in any court of law in the entire United Kingdom. His allegation of two years ago, which I have not publicly reacted to, is being tested in court.
â€œI expected Ribadu to disprove the contradictions I pointed out in his Nigerian and London statements as well as those of his Director of Operations and second-in-command at the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, and Mr. James Garba, a Central Bank of Nigeria staff seconded to EFCC. Instead, he employed his usual rabble-rousing antics of name calling, which was the trademark of his reign as EFCC chairman.
â€œOn my position on resource control and the driving principle behind my determination to redress the injustice done to the people of the Niger Delta, Ribadu asked â€œif it is in keeping with his promise that he became a billionaire overnight on behalf of the suffering masses of Delta State.â€ Ribadu should know that before I became Governor, my collective wealth was substantial.
Even the London Metropolitan Police admitted in their own witness statement filed in court that one of my private companies earned in excess of $5 million annually. I have been the most investigated Governor in Nigeria and the EFCC and London Metropolitan Police are in possession of my Account statements from the Bank of Austria, Merrill Lynch, Citibank (I was a CitiGold memberÃ¹a club of high net worth customers) and Barclays Bank before I became a Governor.
Both the EFCC under Ribadu and the London Metropolitan Police have dubiously refused to exhibit these Account statements to maintain their lie.
How Ribadu plotted to unseat Yar’Adua
â€œSecond, Nuhu Ribadu must be a serial liar, to attempt to deny that he approached me to help unseat the present President. This is one of his numerous on-going attempts to recruit both local and international friends to undermine President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s administration.
The persons he approached, including me, are still alive and they have given testimonies to security agencies. Ribadu even contacted a high-ranking member of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with complaints that a â€œsick Yarâ€™Aduaâ€ should not be allowed to remain in office, and also wanted a serving judge and member of the electoral panel to convince the team of INEC officials to concur with his evil plot that the ballot papers were not serially numbered â€” to damage Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s defence. And he did this with some of his foreign friends who, to date, still wish President Yarâ€™Adua dead.
â€œThirdly, Ribadu said: â€œI am also open to his friendship but that will never be at the expense of my loyalty to my fatherland and commitment to transparency and honesty in public office.â€ Ribadu should shut up and stop boasting about having been Nigeriaâ€™s anti-corruption Czar.
He compromised himself, politicising his office, and teamed up with politicians to influence National Assembly members in the failed third-term tenure elongation gambit. He was a politician, not anti-corruption fighter.
â€œRibadu should wait for the persecution by him and his London Metropolitan Police friends of my associates to break open in a full trial. Then I will enclose copious documentary evidence to substantiate every claim I have made. The opportunistic and brazen-faced Ribadu is nothing but a fraudulent â€œanti- corruption Czarâ€ who operated with instruments of blackmail.
â€œHe should tell the world who paid for his hotel accommodation at 47 Park Street, Mayfair, London where he stayed on his way from San Francisco, USA. Additionally, Ribadu went about soliciting for support from those he claimed to be investigating, towards a non-existent EFCC Football Club
He lobbied me to become IGP
â€œWorst of all, Ribadu denies that he lobbied me to be Inspector-General of Police, (IGP). I never expected him to admit that fact. But if he did not approach me to be IGP, at what point did he inform me of his intention to seek appointment into a narcotics control arm of the United Nations?
That day, he appealed to me to keep it away from the public, but surprisingly, former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, told me, a few days after, that Mr. Ribadu was indeed seeking for the office and he heard this from the former World Bank boss, Paul Wolfensohn. Of course, Ribadu also pursued Kalu everywhere in the name of investigation, while, all the time hiding evidence that Kalu had millions of dollars in foreign accounts before he became Abia State Governor.
Furthermore, that Ribadu claims to have deposited $15 million at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is not, and cannot, be proof that I gave that or any sum of money to him. Also, what greater character could there be than he, an architect of a third-term tenure for a President whose constitutional entitlement is for two terms only, and who tried to induce, harass, embarrass and humiliate National Assembly members to support the project.
â€œNow, Ribadu is using colonial police in London to settle petty political scores in Nigeria, and he, a lawyer, denigrates and disrespects our judicial system by constant allegation of judicial incompetence. My advice to Ribadu is that President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua has been elected the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by the Grace of Almighty God.
Ribadu should respect the mandate Nigerians gave to Yarâ€™Adua and stop hopping from one international capital of the world to another like a junketing gadabout, maligning the elected President of his country.
â€œRibadu also ranted he would use the London Metropolitan Police to send a certain Nigerian businessman to prison for alleged money laundering because he wrote and published a damaging piece about former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He actually tried to but only succeeded in wasting British taxpayerâ€™s money as the businessman was discharged and acquitted on the orchestrated money laundering charges. My question is, was that businessman a public officer in Nigeria?Â Was it not his mastersâ€™ bidding to go after that man? May I also ask if Otunba Mike Adenuga, the eminently popular business mogul and chairman of Globacom, whom he targeted and hounded into exile, is also a public officer?
â€œThe same Ribadu, master-minded the ex-convict plot against me. One night after a meeting of the co-conspirators to frame and denigrate me at all costs, Ribadu called the businessman to â€œshoot his mouthâ€ as usual.
That same night, the benefactor phoned former Vice President Atiku Abubakar alerting him of Ribaduâ€™s plot against me.
â€œSooner Nigerians would know how Ribadu purchased by proxy the shares that he owns in his friendsâ€™ companies. Ribadu would then have to tell the world whether he bought those shares with proceeds from his salary. No wonder he has failed to declare his assets â€” which is tantamount to a crime.
Ribadu still my friend
Finally, Ribadu, on our friendship, said: â€œSince I couldnâ€™t see you when I visited Lagos recently why donâ€™t you visit me in London to catch up with your other friendsâ€? I will accept his invitation to visit London as soon as he can prove to me that the matter in London is not driven by malice and vindictiveness.
Let me remind Ribadu my friend, that by now I am too smart to be caught in a political game which himself and his collaborators in the London Metropolitan Police are playing. If he indeed believes that the trial of the women they have held hostage in London is not political, he should allow the process of the court to prove that, instead of pronouncing people guilty even before they appear in court as he usually did as EFCC chairman in Nigeria.
He is not a staff of the London Metropolitan Police. He is not a member of the Crown Prosecution Service. Neither is he a member of the jury nor the Judge in the matter.
â€œIf you, Nuhu Ribadu, a Nigerian in London, think you have the right to invite me to London to face some trumped up charges, I, a Nigerian with all the rights as a Nigerian, invite you to Nigeria your home country, where you are a pitiable fugitive from justiceâ€.
Ibori should return loot to Delta – Ribadu
Ribadu, however challenged Chief Ibori, to return his alleged loot to the state and make peace with God. Ribadu said Ibori was desperate and would do anything to escape justice.
According to him, â€œinstead of wasting the money of Delta State people that he stole to pay lawyers all over the world, isnâ€™t it better as a â€˜Christianâ€™ that he claims to be to return his loot to the people of Delta State and have peace with his God? If he fails to do so, at the appropriate time, no matter how much the Iboris of this world run from the law, they would one day be made to atone for their sundry crimes.
If they are able to bribe their way through in Nigeria and get men and women of questionable character appointed into office to shield themselves from prosecution, they cannot do the same in the United Kingdom and before God. But even in Nigeria, the protection that they enjoy today is temporary.
Ibori desperate to escape justice
â€œIbori, just like the others we tried to bring to justice, is desperate and would do anything to escape justice as he has always done. Nothing emphasizes Iboriâ€™s capacity for falsehood and felony than his claim, at the press conference, that I â€œframedâ€ him for attempting to bribe me with $15 million dollars.
As he told the lie, and as I write this, the $15 million remain as an exhibit deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
â€œIt has now become fashionable for all sorts of morally-bankrupt people to try to use me to do one thing or the other. I had it on record, while in office as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that James Ibori was a double convict.
First, as a police officer and also as an anti-corruption campaigner who was committed to doing his part to rid Nigeria of rogues, how could I have been seeking the assistance of a convicted felon for the highest police position in the country? If I wanted to be IG, he would be the last person I will consider to help me.
IGP? Ibori lied
â€œAny close observer of the events in Nigeria in the last decade would agree that what we were able to achieve as founders and operators of the EFCC was of a more fundamental nature, in the context of our urgent national crisis, than becoming IGP.
It was a waste of time attempting to dignify Mr. Ibori, former governor of Delta State, with a response to the tissue of lies and cheap fabrications that he let loose,â€ but added that it was â€œimportant to set the records straight, particularly against one of those who perpetrated the worst heist against the treasury since Nigeriaâ€™s independence.
That Ibori is finally finding his voice after two years since his prosecution both at home and abroad started is a testimony to his desperation as the cases, particularly the ones in the United Kingdom, move toward legal resolution.
â€œAs regards the allegation that Ibori made on the 2007 presidential election petition, let me state clearly that it is totally untrue. However, I am also aware that there is a whole industry of seeking favour from President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua based on the legal tussle over the 2007 presidential election.
Already, many fortune and favour-seekers have imagined many plots and many plotters in their attempt to deceive the man in power that I tried to scuttle the Appeal Court case on the election. Many got offices, positions, and others and even got me out of the EFCC telling this lie to Aso Rock Villa.
â€œThey continue to use it. If Ibori claims that I sought his support to truncate Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s contested victory at the Appeal Court, is he claiming to have the power to influence the judges and pervert the course of justice?â€ He asked.