Nigeria receives £4.2m Ibori loot
NEWSMAN, Abuja – Nigerian authorities Tuesday said the state funds looted by the former governor of Delta State James Ibori, has returned to the country.
Nigeria’s Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said in a statement by his spokesman, Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, that a total of £4,214,017.66 of the loot associated with the family members of former Delta State governor has been received.
According to the statement, the amount was credited into the designated Nigerian Government account with naira equivalent value of the amount as of 10th May, 2021.
Malami had earlier signed Memorandum of Understanding for the repatriation of the Ibori loot on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The arrival of the money in Nigeria is expected to reignite the ownership battle that first surfaced between the federal and Delta State governments when the agreement for the return of the money was announced in March.
Recall that the AGF while signing the agreement on behalf of the Nigerian government on March 9, said the fund would be ploughed into the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano Road and the Second Niger Bridge.
He said the projects would boost economic growth and help alleviate poverty.
But the Delta State Government, in response, said the money should be returned to it as the victim of the looting perpetrated by Mr Ibori and his cronies. The oil-rich state said it should be left to decide how to spend the money.
It recalled that the funds and assets recovered from former Governor of Bayelsa State, the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was equally convicted of corruption charges in July 2007, were returned to the state’s coffers, so the Ibori loot should not be treated differently.
Ibori, a man who stole millions from the suffering people of oil-rich Delta State and laundered the proceeds in the U.K., had earlier been set free of the charges by a Nigerian federal court.
He was later arrested in the United Arab Emirate (UAE) and extradited to the U.K where he was eventually jailed for the aspects of the crimes committed in the U.K.
Ibori pleaded guilty to money laundering, conspiracy to defraud, and forgery in a U.K. court in February 2012.
The ex-convict, who was believed to retain his political influence in Delta State while serving his jail term in the U.K., returned to Nigeria in February 2017 after completing his imprisonment.