Despite just getting out of jail for stealing at least $250 million from the coffers of his oil-rich Delta State, former Governor James Ibori has described himself as a man who believed in justice, equity and fairness.
Speaking Saturday when he received a delegation from a socio-cultural group, Ndi Anioma, Mr. Ibori said his support for a governor from the Delta North senatorial district, which saw the emergence of Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, was based on his believe for justice, equity and fairness.
The delegation to the former governor’s Oghara hometown was led by Emmanuel Efeizomor, the Obi of Owa, and Chairman, Delta Council of Traditional Rulers.
Mr. Ibori commended the Delta North (Anioma) people for the visit and for their prayers which made his freedom from jail possible.
He said the massive support he received from the Aniomas in his quest for governorship in 1998 prompted his choice of an Anioma indigene as his deputy.
“My believe in justice, equity and fairness informed my firm support for an Anioma governor which has come to pass with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on the saddle,” he said.
He promised to continue to identify with Anioma people and urged them to remain united and support Mr. Okowa to succeed.
Earlier, the Owa monarch commended Mr. Ibori for his disposition to advancing the political course of Anioma people.
He said that the five years absence of the former governor was greatly felt by Deltans, particularly the political class and members of the Peoples’ Democracy Party (PDP).
The monarch added that Mr. Ibori’s return would change the political landscape of the state ahead of 2019 elections.
He said Mr. Ibori had closely related with the Anioma nation, having chosen Benjamin Elue as his deputy in his eight years in office as governor.
He recalled the role played by the former governor in the emergence of Mr. Okowa as governor of Delta and particularly thanked him for endorsing the governor for a second term.
Mr. Efeizomor thanked God for the safe return of Mr. Ibori, describing him as an invaluable asset to the state and country.
He urged him to see his travails in London as a sacrifice towards deepening democracy in Nigeria and assured him of the continued support of Anioma people.
The delegates included Benjamin Elue, Nkem Okwuofu, Chris Agbobu, Theodora Giwa-Amu, traditional rulers, legislators and members of the State Executive Council from Delta North.
After almost five years of playing cat and mouse with Nigerian and British authorities, the former governor capitulated on February 27, 2012, pleading guilty in a London court to 10 counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.
Before Judge Anthony Pitts, Mr. Ibori admitted stealing $250million as alleged by the prosecution.
The Metropolitan Police had accused the former governor of spending some of the stolen money to purchase six houses in London – paying £2.2m in cash for one Hampstead mansion – and putting his children in expensive British private schools.
Revelations from Panama Papers later showed in vivid details how Mr. Ibori carefully organised his looting scheme.
To hide his loot, Mr. Ibori, working through a Swiss asset management firm, Clamorgan S.A. in Geneva, established several offshore companies, including Stanhope Investments Limited,a foundation, Julex Foundation, and a trust, The Hopes Trust, enlisting himself, his wife and daughters as beneficiaries.