By Tony Eluemunor

Backstabbing rankles, here I reference a cowardly announcement in the Sunday Independent of October 27, 2019 over my article of 20th October: “We have since discovered that the contents of the article are unsubstantiated and frivolous. Its publication is therefor in bad taste.”

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I said in the article, that Ibori’s persecution started January 2003 (after the PDP National Convention where Ibori spear-headed late Vice-President Alex Ekwueme’s presidency bid. After Olusegun Obasanjo’s re-election, he promised Ibori that  you described me as “unmarketable, unsalable and unelectable; all your life I will make you unmarketable, unsalable and unelectable.”  That same January, Ibori began to pay for his support for Ekwueme when the Nigerian ex-convict case surfaced.

Ah, there I go again, forgetting that even Sunday Independent, part of the stable Ade Ogidan heads and owned by Ibori himself has termed what I wrote about Ibori, a lie. Yet, in that article, I showed how Corporal Sunday Musa proved conclusively in court that the ex-convict allegation brought against Ibori was cooked up by detractors. He, the Policeman listed in the Certified True Copy of the Bwari Upper Area Court as the investigator, testified that he NEVER DID THAT. Ade Ogidan and Ibori’s newspaper he heads, threw all such into the gutter as “unsubstantiated and frivolous.” Joining Ibori’s media enemies, the do littles at Independent snubbed my article: “ZIK GBEMRE ON IBORI: LESS SENSE, MORE NONSENSE.” Ibori, not me, was backstabbed!

Well, back to the present: An article “MAGU YET UNSAFE IN UNCOMMON ACTING CAPACITY”, by Ehichioya Ezomon, in the New Telegraph newspaper and TheNewsGuru online on Monday 28 October 2019, touched on the urban legend that Nuhu Ribadu, a former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission rejected a $15m bribe. He called Ibrahim Magu the best investigator EFCC ever had, same way Lamorde and Ribadu were described when the fought to be retained. Can’t propagandists be creative?

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Police statements from Ribadu and other EFCC agents, and various books too, including Obasanjo’s, have proved Ribadu’s bribery allegation against Ibori a lie.  Ribadu’s London statement, August 26, 2009: “Ibori wanted to bribe me personally in order to get an EFFC clearance letter freeing him from corruption. But Ribadu’s, Ibrahim Lamorde’s and James Garba’s statements of 2007 contradicted Ribadu.   The bribery date:  Ribadu in London said “26/4/ 2007” but 25th in his 2007 Nigerian Police statement. Contradicting himself further, Ribadu said in 2007 “The money was collected in MY PRESENCE at Dr. Andy Ubah’s house by Lamorde and his officers.”

Lamorde contradicted Ribadu:  on “25th April” Ribadu said “there was the sum of $15 million (USD) in cash given to HIM AND THE COMMISSION by James Ibori. Garba supported this version, saying that the money was there in Uba’s house on the 25th April 2007, and he was directed by Lamorde to collect the sum and deposit at the CBN. Garba said: “but I could not make the deposit that day because it was already late to do so”; the money was collected THE FOLLOWING day. So Ribadu lied to his agents that Ibori gave him the money on April 25th.

Supporting Garba, Lamorde said that Ribadu instructed him same 25th to go to Uba’s residence for the money and “directed that I should make arrangement to collect it. So on 26 -04-07, myself and Mr. James Garba, proceeded to Mr. Uba’s residence. We collected the money.” He said Ribadu was not there when the alleged money was collected from Uba.

Was Ibori there in Ubah’s house as claimed in Ribadu’s London statement? Garba said: “In the compound, I saw Mr. Andy Uba and he directed some men, to carry a brownish long bag, very heavy, into the booth of the Director’s (Lamorde) car. This happened after the Director (Lamorde) and Uba had exchanged greetings on our arrival to Uba’s house”. Mark his words; Uba and not not Ibori directed the sordid affair unlike in Ribadu’s London statement.

So Garba continued: “some men (not one as Ribadu claimed) carried “the long heavy bag” into Lamorde’s car. Garba said Mr. Uba was worried if the vehicle could carry the long and heavy bag. So Garba was so emphatic that the alleged money was contained in only one “long heavy bag” that he repeated the single number of the bag, not once but twice. Yet, Ribadu, in the London statement included Ibori in the scene; “James (Ibori) was there and his servant or driver brought out the money from the house in two (2) bags”. Shame to the devil and his liar agents!

Ribadu claimed in his London statement he didn’t question Ibori over the alleged bribery, because Governor’s enjoyed immunity. Why didn’t EFCC raise that question after Ibori’s arrest, before arraigning him at Kaduna? But if the bribe was allegedly given on 25th April, 2007 (or the 26th according to Ribadu’s London statement), why were Ribadu, Lamorde and Garba (a staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria seconded to the EFCC) statements made on 12th December, 2007 though the charges against Ibori were filed at the Federal High Court, Kaduna on 11th December, 2007—they were written after filing the suit—as an after-thought to frame Ibori. Only in Nigeria would that be taken seriously.

Add Ribadu’s two conflicting statements to Lamorde’s and Garba’s and  Andy Uba’s  totally new version, which openly called Ribadu a liar, and add EFFCC lawyer’ Rotimi Jacobs and you have six statements on a single event; six different stories from four adults. Jacobs said in court that EFCC got the alleged bribery money from “unknown agents of Ibori.”

Please make it seven different stories; Obasanjo, said on page 482 (Volume two) of his My Watch book: that he mounted pressure on and convinced Ibori, to refund money to Delta state, and instructed the Central Bank to open an account for the refund.  He continued: “(Ibori) took S15m to Nuhu (Ribadu) in cash. Nuhu reported the matter to me and the money was transferred to the CBN AS FIRST INSTALLMENT WHILE PURSUING THE BALANCE. Please ask Obasanjo if it was bribe or restitution money or a tall devilish tale.

Where did the $15m come from?  Nasir el-Rufai hinted on page 339 of his book, THE ACCIDENTAL PUBLIC SERVANT: “(Ribadu) directed EFCC to track cash movements” (into) Third Term fund, “Most of the money was allegedly going to companies and bank accounts controlled by Andy Uba who handled those things for him. On page 349 came this: “Each Rep was to receive N50m and each Senator N75m. It was from Andy Uba’s house that the payments emanated. Many of the Senators declined the money. It was bribe money”.  So, Andy Uba controlled slush funds.  On same page he quoted Nigeria’s former Mr. Upright, unbendable anti-corruption President asking Amadu Ali, Tony Anenih, Ojo Maduekwe, Sen Ken Nnamani, Aminu Masari about Third Term: “I do not like the way this thing is going, so what can we do to salvage the situation?”  Third Term attempt failed and a small fraction of the money was used to destroy an enemy: Ibori. El-Rufai said he belonged to the Public Communications group that had a budget of N1.2bn” (page 339).

Obasanjo continued (page 472); Ribadu indicted 32 of the 36 Governors as “either manifestly corrupt or had been tainted.” He gave me a copy of his report. Bola Tinubu was definitely one of the worst cases.” That was in 2006; 13 years later Ribadu wouldn’t dare own up to that report. El-Rufai (page 359) accused Ribadu of going after some Governors unjustly to clear the way for El-Rufai presidency in 2007.

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Yet, Ribadu wrote in his London statement: He, Larmode and Garba went to Uba’s house and Ibori was there and his servant or driver brought out the money from the house, in two (2) massive sacks. My staff took possession of the money. This took place outside the house and lodged as an exhibit.” Lamorde and Garba said neither Ribadu nor Ibori was there when they collected the money.

He and Uba thus accused themselves of lying. It was Third Term money. The lies endure because Nigerian journalists are busy talking “less sense and more nonsense” to quote the magnificent late Dr. Stanley Macebuh.

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