By Austin Ogwuda
ASABAâ€”THE immediate past governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, will today know his fate over the lingering charges of alleged money laundering contained in the 170-count charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
State Police commandâ€™s spokesman, Mr. Charles Muka, told Vanguard yesterday that â€œwe are fully prepared to ensure there is law and order within and outside the court premises. Our men are on the ground.â€
Ruling on the application filed by Ibori to quash the charges, if eventually decided in his favour, automatically sets him free otherwise, the EFCC, who claimed that it has a strong case against the ex-governor would then proceed to adduce evidence.
Already, most of the supporters living outside Asaba, the state capital, have started arriving in anticipation of the much expected ruling.
Presiding Judge, Justice Marcel Awokulehin, of the Federal High Court, Asaba,Â had shifted the ruling three times.
While adjourning the matter on 6 November in his last sitting over the matter,Â he had disclosed thatÂ some issues came up between the last adjourned day and now, ostensibly in a veiledÂ reference to the avalanche of petitions against him (judge) over the matter.
He, however, said he would rather like â€œto err on the side of cautionâ€.
The parties involved are the Federal Republic of Nigeria and James Ibori, Udoamaka Okoronkwo, Chiedu Ebie, MER Engineering Nigeria limited, IBAINENOX Limited and SAGICON Nigeria Limited.
When hearingÂ on f the case commenced afresh in Asaba, it was stalled following the absence of the second accused, Udoamaka Okoronkwo, and in the course of trying to fetch Okoronkwo from abroad to face trial, Ibori precisely on the 28 July 2009, brought an application to quash the charges.
It was the ruling on that application which is crucial, as it is a ruling that the ex-governorâ€™s fate would be determined..
Iboriâ€™s lawyers had argued that â€œno prima facie case has been established against any of the accused persons and none of the accused persons had been charged, even with any act of criminalityâ€.
ButÂ Mr. Ibrahim Isiyaku (SA, EFCCâ€™s lead counsel, said the commission was fully prepared to go on with the case, saying â€œthis is not a corruption trial or misappropriation of state funds.
â€œAll the accused persons are charged for money laundering and there is a specific legislation for money launderingâ€.