What you need to know about the James Ibori $15 million bribery allegations


James Ibori, the former Governor of Delta State recently stated that he did not offer Nuhu Ribadu (the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission chairman) a bribe. According to him, this allegation is a cheap attempt by Ribadu to cover up some of the commission’s shady activities during his tenure.

Reportedly, he has said that “As the Senate and some security agencies appear to be asking questions about some unwholesome events at the EFCC, including the mismanagement and criminal diversion of funds from the sale of confiscated properties into personal pockets, Ribadu may have a need to attempt to burnish his fading image, fearing the investigations may lead to questions about events during his tenure. But he should be told that lying, against even an enemy, just to gain some unearned applause and perhaps fence off some approaching investigation and image disaster, must have a limit.”

As the tussle between these two men continues, here is some background:

James Ibori’s long romance with corruption

Ibori was the Governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007. However, before he became a governor, he had worked in a London store as a cashier and was arrested several times for stealing. To conceal his identity while he was contesting as a gubernatorial candidate, he obtained a false passport and birth certificate, which altered his date of birth.

Recently, Strive Maiyiwa, the chairman of Econet alleged that Ibori demanded a sum of $4.5 million from him in order to operate his business in Nigeria. Maiyiwa reportedly said: ‘James Ibori, the Governor of Delta State, was demanding $4.5m be paid to him in his personal capacity. He was one of the most powerful men in the country and had a reputation for violence. When he heard that I was refusing to approve payment he issued an ultimatum: “Pay or I will chase you and your people out of the country.”

This ‘bribery’ occurred 8 years ago

The EFCC first arrested Ibori, under the leadership of Nuhu Ribadu, in 2007, due to corruption charges. In order to stop Ribadu from further investigations into his corrupt activities, Ibori reportedly offered a bribe of $15 million. However, Ribadu lodged the money in the Central Bank of Nigeria as an exhibit and to serve as evidence against him.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has been working in partnership with EFCC to thoroughly investigate Ibori since 2005, and in 2010, the Nigerian government and the United Kingdom agreed to work together on Ibori’s extradition to the United Kingdom.

Ibori received a 13-year jail term in February 2012 at the Southward Crown court in the United Kingdom.

What resurrected the case?

Ibori’s can of worms was re-opened following Nuhu Ribadu’s TEDx Talk in Berlin, Germany, where he noted that with $60 billion illegally leaving Africa yearly, stolen money is the continent’s biggest export.

Ribadu also stated, “Ibori approached me with $15million to stop his investigation. I called my people because the money was in big bags, which two people could not carry and we deposited it in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as evidence against him. Ibori escaped to Dubai from where he was taken to the United Kingdom for trial. He is serving a jail term in the UK.”

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