Tuesday, 7 August 2012

EFCC to challenge Delta on $15m ibori money

There were indications on Tuesday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will go to court to challenge moves to claim
for Delta State, the controversial
$15m cash said to have been
received from an undisclosed
agent of a former governor of
the state, Chief James Ibori, in
EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs,
informed our correspondent that
the anti-graft agency would
contest the moves to have the
$15m returned to the state.
The sum, which Ibori allegedly
offered the EFCC as bribe to
compromise its investigations by
the anti-graft agency, has been
kept in the strong room of the
Central Bank of Nigeria as an
unclaimed property since August
Following an exparte motion by
the EFCC, an Abuja Federal High
Court on July 25, 2012, granted
an interim order forfeiting the
$15m to the Federal Government.
The court, presided by Justice
Gabriel Kolawole, ordered that if
nobody steps forward to claim
the money within 14 days, it
would be finally forfeited to the
Federal Government when the
motion on notice for final
forfeiture comes up for hearing
on September 17, 2007.
Since the court granted the
interim order, some stakeholders
in Delta State had been arguing
that the money should be
handed over to the state, which
Ibori governed between 1999
and 2007.
Some stakeholders in Delta State,
including a former Minister of
Information and Ijaw leader,
Chief Edwin Clark, called for the
return of the money to the state.
A lawyer, Mr. Timipa Okponipere,
on July 27, filed a suit before an
Abuja Federal High Court,
challenging the interim order
that forfeited the amount to the
Federal Government.
The suit is perceived to be moves
by Delta State to claim the money.
The lawyer told the court that he
filed the application “for and on
behalf of the Government and
people of Delta State.”
He asked the court not to give
the money to the Federal
Government, maintaining that as
at April 25, 2007 when Ibori
allegedly offered the bribe of
$15m bribe to the EFCC, he was
still the governor of Delta State,
with all rights and privileges
attached to the office.
He asked the court to declare
that the $15m is property
belonging to Government of
Delta State and its people.
Okponipere further asked the
court to hold that any application
or order granting the money to
any other entity other than the
Government and people of Delta
State was illegal and of no effect.
The lawyer asked the court to
order the Attorney General of the
Federation, the EFCC and the CBN
to return the money to the
Government and people of Delta
However, EFCC counsel, Jacobs,
told our correspondent that the
anti-graft agency will challenge
the moves to claim the money in
court, once it is served with
notices of a suit to claim the said
Our correspondent asked for an
update on the fate of the
controversial $15m bribe money,
following the termination of the
two-week window during which
the Abuja FHC ordered that any
interested person should step
forward to claim the money, and
show cause why the final order
of forfeiture should not be made
in favour of the Federal
Speaking to our correspondent
on the telephone, Jacobs said, “I
read in the papers that
somebody made a claim, but we
have not been served.
“If we are served we will contest
it in court.”
The EFCC counsel added that in
the event the commission was
not served, it would still go to
court to move the motion for the
final forfeiture of the $15m to the
Federal Government.
Okponipere urged the court to
declare that the $15m became
property of the Government and
people of Delta State when Ibori
was convicted and sentenced to
prison in the United Kingdom,
and that his (Ibori’s) conviction
quashed all previous denials he
made to any court, and the EFCC,
regarding the question of
whether or not he was the actual
giver of the alleged bribe money.

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