-Saharareporters, New York
More details are emerging about the corrupt activities of former Governor James Ibori of Delta State.
Last week, Saharareporters exclusively reported that Ibori owns a lucrative charter airline—Wings Aviation Airline Limited—which is now a subject of investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Our latest update is that Mallam Yar'adua, who currently occupies the presidential seat following the massively rigged polls of April 21, 2007, may have become jittery about lavish finances his campaign received from Ibori. The Metropolitan Police of London have stepped up pressure on the EFCC over Mr. Ibori's money laundering activities in the UK. Last week, the New Scotland Yard officers led by DC Peter Clark of the Proceeds of Corruption Unit visited Nigeria to give the EFCC extensive briefs on Joshua Dariye (former Plateau State governor) and James Ibori.
A livid Ibori is reportedly disappointed that Yar’Adua has done little to protect him from the EFCC’s searchlight as well as from the attention of the London police. “If he is going to fall, he’ll ensure that the entire Yar’Adua machine falls with him,” revealed our source who is close to Ibori. The former two-term governor has threatened to implicate Yar’Adua whose campaign was jump started and sustained with billions of naira of Delta State funds. Yar’Adua is rattled by the threat, but with the involvement of London, has said that his hands are a bit tied. Yar’Adua’s only open option is to calm Ibori down with a political appointment.
Until recently, Ibori was angling for a ministerial position in the Yar’Adua administration. But he has made a sudden u-turn, settling now for an ambassadorial position in the Far East.
Ibori, according to our sources, funneled over N10 billion to the Yar'Adua campaigns through former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Our sources in the Ibori and Yar’Adua camps also grumbled that Obasanjo had kept part of the money for his private use, a pattern consistent with allegations of abuse of campaign contributions earlier made against the former president by former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State.
In addition to financing Yar’Adua’s presidential bid, Ibori, as owner of Wings Aviation Airline Limited, also provided logistical support for the presidential campaigns. Saharareporters has learnt that when the two Wings Aviation's planes became inadequate to ferry the campaign crowd that traveled with Yar'Adua, four jets were secretly brought into Nigeria from South Africa using Alhaji Aliko Dangote as a front. The jets included three Brazilian-made Embraer jets and one Hawker Siddeley (HS) jet. The jets were brought under the pretext of providing executive jet services, but they were never registered with the Nigerian aviation authorities. The four jets have since become part of the fleet of Wings Aviation Airlines Limited.
The EFCC is investigating reports that Ibori bought the jets at the rate of $37 million each and secretly brought them in to boost his fleet—using the campaign engagements as cover.
A few days ago, Saharareporters disclosed that President Obasanjo quietly traveled out of Nigeria in one of the jets. Although he claimed to his close associates that the jet belonged to Aliko Dangote, it is becoming clearer that Obasanjo may be the owner, but decided to keep under Wings Aviation's hangar.