By Emma Ujah
ABUJAâ€”CHIEF James Onanefe Ibori, yesterday, expressed surprise over enquiries on why he did not report to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
He said the anti-graft agency was fully aware he would not report that Saturday.
A statement from his Media Assistant, Mr. Tony Eluemunor, quoted the former governor as saying that his legal counsel had written the EFCC over the matter, stating why Ibori would not honour the invitation that day.
The statement said: â€œIboriâ€™s counsel, Mr. J. B. Dauda wrote a letter dated 16th April, 2010, and addressed to the Chairman of the EFCC, titled â€œRe: your reply to our letter concerning Mr. James Ibori; report of EFCC manhunt in Nigerian dailiesâ€, where he adduced reasons that constrained Ibori from showing up.
â€œSuch reasons include the fact that our client has, to your knowledge and that of the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation, filed an action seeking for enforcement of his fundamental human rights to liberty, fair hearing and freedom of movement among others, which comes up on Monday, 19th April, 2010 before the Federal High Court, Asaba.
Waiting for the courts’ resolution
â€œOur humble advice is to tarry a while until the courts resolve the issues before the Judge. Any other step to the contrary or in enforcement of your purported letter of interview will amount to disrespect to the judicial process.â€
The letter also accused EFCC of making contradictory claims on how they invited Ibori, through a letter dated 22 March, 2010 but which was delivered to Iboriâ€™s Lagos home on 13th April, at 4.22pm hours after EFCC had declared him wanted.
The second claim was that EFCC invited Ibori by proxy, through staff of Delta State Government.
Iboriâ€™s letter said that this â€œunwholesome contradictory position showed desperation to rope our client in under the guise of official criminal investigation.â€
The letter took the EFCC chairman to task over the claim that Ibori was not being investigated on the Ascot company and Delta State Government shares in Oceanic Bank.
Investigation into Ascot-Wilbros acquisition
It said: â€œYour assertion that we have presumed the reason for your alleged invitation of our client again contradicts your several press statements that you are reopening investigation into the Ascot-Wilbros Acquisition on the basis of a renewed petition by a group known as Delta Elders and Stakeholders Forum led by Chief E. K. Clark.
â€œYou cannot deny that this matter has been investigated and falls under the matter under appeal at the Court of Appeal, Benin. However, if your position, as you now claim, is that the investigation is associated with other crimes, then under the 1999 Constitution, and the EFCC Act, you are mandated to disclose the reason why you are inviting him into your office which has a notorious reputation for depriving Nigerians of their liberty beyond the timeframe permitted by the law.
â€œThis non-disclosure of why Ibori is wanted by the EFCC is a flagrant breach of the constitutionally protected right to fair-hearing in section 36 of the 1999 constitution and transgresses the rules of fairness and equity.â€
Meanwhile, Ibori has sued the EFCC for libel and is asking for N10 billion for damages. Also, Iboriâ€™s suit to restrain EFCC is expected to resume at the Federal High Court Asaba today.