By Emma Amaize, Festus Ahon, Gab Ejuwa Akpokona Omafuaire, Perez Brisibe & Paul Olayemi
OGHARA—Six years after a former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, fled the country, his Oghara country home in Ethiope West Local Government Area, has turned to a “political Mecca,” as the governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, politicians and other Deltans, trooped there to visit the erstwhile governor.
Meanwhile, Ibori, at about 11.08 pm, February 4, opened a Twitter account with the handle @ChiefIbori, and at about 3:20a.m, three tweets had been recorded on the handle with the first saying, “Good morning Nigerians.”
The second tweet at 12.32 am on February 5, which has a video of him acknowledging cheers from the crowd that welcomed him at his Oghara residence, read: “I’m excited to unite with my people. The strength of any politician lies in the hands of his followers.” A third tweet at 12.40 am, same day, said: “The energy yesterday was electrifying and intimidating. I’m grateful.”
Governor Okowa, a member of the Ibori political family, who Vanguard exclusively reported would visit him after church service, turned up at Ibori’s residence at exactly 4:02pm with a retinue of government officials.
With Ibori’s long absence from the state, it was expected that the governor would take some time to keep his former boss posted, and this they did, shutting others out.
Elue, Utuama pull in
Prof. Amos Utuama, deputy governor of the state under the Emmanuel Uduaghan administration and also Attorney General/Commissioner for Justice in the Ibori government, stopped over at 5.45 pm on Saturday, making him one of the early birds. Others who pulled in on the same day were two former commissioners, Chief Tom Amioku and Dr. Joseph Otumara.
Ibori’s former deputy, Dr, Benjamin Elue, Senator Patrick Osakwe and a member of the Central Working Committee of the Pan Niger Delta Fourum, PANDEF, Prof. G. G. Darah, were also at Oghara
It was not entirely a PDP affair, as factional state chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Adolor Okotie-Eboh was also at Oghara to felicitate with Ibori.
Though it was not certain if the visit by Chief Adolor was politically inclined or just a solidarity visit, a close friend to the former governor, Chief Ighoyota Amori, on Saturday, said: “Ibori remains in PDP, and all his followers are in PDP.”
Also yesterday, Ibori hosted his long-time political ally and senator representing Delta South senatorial district, Senator James Manager, who was accompanied by the member representing Burutu constituency in Delta State House of Assembly, DTHA, Daniel Yingi and a member on the board of Delta State Board of Internal Revenue, Barry Gbe.
At about 1.30 pm on Sunday, some DTHA members, among them, Prince Eric Oharisi, Samuel Mariere and Chief Sheriff Oborewhori, stormed the Ibori country home in four black SUVs but did not meet Ibori, who had stepped out before their arrival.
In addition, the Ivie of Oghara, Mosogar and Idjere kingdoms visited Ibori at his home, making them the first set of monarchs to have visited him in his abode.
We’re thrilled — Oghara monarch
A source said: “Ibori left his apartment for the second time since his arrival on Saturday, at about 12:27 p.m, yesterday, in a convoy of 13 cars to an unspecified destination. The first was when he visited the Ovie (traditional ruler) of Oghara Kingdom, HRM Nobel Eshiemitan, Orefe III.
At the palace, Orefe III said the people were excited about Ibori’s return and also expressed happiness that he had not lost touch with the tradition of his people.
Ibori had, three hours after his arrival, left through the rear exit of his house, unknown to the crowd, to pay homage to his traditional ruler.
With him were political associates, including Chief Ighoyota Amori, Chief Henry Ofa, Chief Ayiri Emami, his daughter, who is the member representing Ethiope West in the State House of Assembly, Erhiatake Ibori and others.
The former governor, who left in a convoy of five SUVs arrived the king’s palace at 6:40 pm to behold a mass of well wishers waiting to catch a glimpse of him.
Clad in a navy blue native and black shoes, Ibori, who came with drinks and kolanuts for royal blessings, was received amidst cheers from his kinsmen.
Vanguard gathered that the courtesy visit, which lasted until about 8.00 p.m also had in attendance two sons of the kingdom, Prince Charles Abutor and Emmanuel Ganigan, both of whom accompanied the former governor on his flight from London to Nigeria, in the early hours of Saturday.
Fielding questions from Vanguard on Ibori’s visit to the palace, the royal father said: “Yes, he visited and it was a big challenge controlling the crowd that thronged the palace. We are excited that he has finally had his breath of freedom in Nigeria and in his hometown here in Oghara.”