ByÂ Luka Binniyat
ABUJAâ€”THERE wereÂ strong indications that former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori, would be extradited to the United Kingdom when he honours the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC’s invitation to answer to the alleged new charges levelled at him.
Sources close to the anti-graft agency told Vanguard that Ibori could be flown to Heathrow Airport in the UK to face charges that have not been disclosed to him.
Vanguard learnt that plans have been concluded between the UK and Nigerian governments for his extradition and following a tip-off, Ibori went underground to avoid the plannedÂ extradition.
A Vanguard source said: â€œThey are exhuming an allegation that has been decided by a court of law in Nigeria because they can no longer arrest and prosecute the former governor on the 170 charges which have been thrown out by the Federal High Court in Asaba and which EFCC has appealed.â€
The source added that Ibori was declared wanted out of desperation to smoke him out from hiding, unaware that Ibori has been tipped-off about the planned extradition.
Delta Reps tackle EFCC on due process
Meantime, members of the Delta State caucus of the House of Representatives were livid, yesterday, over the declaration of Ibori as a wanted man by EFCC, saying it was bare of due process and stank of political victimisation.
The caucus also provided a document signed by EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri, June 3, 2009, which absolved Ibori from any wrong doing after an investigation on the alleged multi-billion naira scam in the Ascot Offshore Limited purchase of Wilbros Inc. asset in Nigeria. The Ascot-Wilbros affair is seen as Iboriâ€™s biggest problem.
The caucus, at a briefing in Abuja, yesterday, through Hon. Halims Agoda flanked by some members said: â€œThe desperation to pull down Ibori took a disturbing and dramatic turn yesterday, April 13, 2010,â€ noting that after freeing Ibori on these heavy charges, it would not tolerate anyone to revisit the issue.
Agoda said: â€œThis was at a time when he had just protested to the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation through his legal counsel, that he needed the protection of the state against agents of those who want him crucified unjustly through torrents of unsubstantiated negative media reports against him.
In the instant case, the EFCC invitation letter was delivered to him on Tuesday, 13th April, 2010 at 4:20pm in which he was asked to appear before the commission on Saturday, 17th April, 2010.
â€œEven before Chief Ibori could digest the contents of the letter, and make contacts with his lawyers, the EFCC on the same day slammed him with a declaration that he is now a wanted man. This was when the day of his expected report to the commission has not fallen due.
â€œIf this is not a summary deployment of impunity and explosion of its coercive power, how else can this display of power be classified? Who is the EFCC working for; whose interest is the Commission pushing?â€
The Caucus spokesman said the renewed interest of the EFCC was dumbfounding since the Commission had already appealed against last yearâ€™s judgement by the Federal High Court, Asaba, Delta State, which freed him â€œafter a period of a very rigorous forensic judicial process.â€
The caucus which provided a document dated 3rd June, 2009 signed by Mrs Farida, however, alleged political victimisation, but did not mention who was Iboriâ€™s tormentor-in-chief.
The document was a letter written to a company called Copley Partners, located on Fortunes Towers, Alakija Street, Victoria Island, Lagos inquiring whether Ascot was involved in any shady deal.
It concluded: â€œIn view of the foregoing, there has been no nexus established between James O. Ibori or Delta State government with Ascot Offshore Nigeria Limited nor was it established that Ascot was used to launder funds for or on behalf of Ibori and or Delta State Government as the whole transaction was financed by the intercontinental Bank Plc as evidenced in their Offer Letter of facilities dated 12th January, 2007 in the sum of N19.5 billion, term loan, N1.3 billion overdraft facility and another offer Letter dated 6th February, 2007 in the sum of $22 million.â€