By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA— Contro-versies regarding who owns the $15 million allegedly offered to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, by the convicted erstwhile Governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori, in 2007, has assumed a fresh dimension as one Chibuike Achigbu, yesterday, approached a Federal High Court in Abuja to lay claim to the money.
In an application he filed through a consortium of lawyers, among whom were three Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, Achigbu, who identified himself as an oil magnate, told the court that he actually gave the $15 million to Dr. Andy Uba, a former aide to the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, for the purpose of financing Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the 2007 general elections.
The applicant, in an affidavit he deposed to before the high court, averred that following his desire to ensure that PDP secured power at various levels of governance in the country during the 2007 elections, he promptly sought legal advice on whether he could offer monetary assistance to the party.
He said though his initial target was to raise N3 billion for the party through his associates, however, it dawned on him around April 2007, when the election was already close, that he had already raised money in excess of N2 billion after which he realised that such donations could only be made through a financial institution.
Achigbu further told the court that it was in his bid to make the donations within the ambit of the law that he approached Senator Uba to help him reach out to the relevant agencies of government that would investigate and certify that the funds were raised honestly and in good faith.
He said it was at that juncture that Uba advised that the fund be handed to him, saying he would transmit it to EFCC for security checks before it could be donated to PDP.
Achigbu said: “Andy Uba was a Special Assistant in the Presidency who offered to take custody of the fund with a view to inviting EFCC to carry out the audit and certification before being donated to PDP.”
Achigbu told the court that it was after he had delivered the money to Uba that he began to hear rumours about an attempt by ex-Governor Ibori to bribe the then chairman of EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, adding that owing to the fact that he had no interaction with Ibori, he never paid attention to the rumour nor thought it had any bearing with the money he gave to Uba for clearance by the anti-graft agency.
Moreso, the applicant maintained that due to the political ambition of Uba to become the governor of Anambra State, he lost contact with him and was not able to reach him to ask for an update regarding the fund.
He said: “It was not until several months after Uba’s election was voided at the Supreme Court that I succeeded in making contact with him.”
The applicant stressed that since then, he was not in speaking terms with Uba until August 27, 2012, when he said he received a call from Uba informing him that the $15 million in question was the same money he collected from him.
He said Uba specifically confirmed to him that it was Ibrahim Lamorde, the then Director of Operations of EFCC, that was instructed to receive the money from him (Uba) on April 25, 2007. Achigbu said Uba had also agreed to depose to an affidavit to own up to the facts deposed to in his application.
Meanwhile, the high court presided over by Justice Gladys Olotu, yesterday, struck out another application that was filed by one Timipa Okponipkere, asking that the $15 million be handed to the Delta State government, even as it fixed September 17 to hear arguments between the state and Federal Government regarding who has the legal right to claim ownership of the money.
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