The University of Benin has begun a new search for another speaker for its convocation lecture after the Acting Vice Chancellor was overwhelmed by protests from staff, students and alumni after Saharareporters exposed his plan to give the honour to the embattled former Delta State Governor James Ibori.
In anticipation of victory by the Federal High Court in Asaba to quash money-laundering charges against the former governor, Professor Emmanuel Kubeyinje, an Itsekiri from Delta State, had been contacted to help provide a platform for Ibori to relaunch himself. The Delta State government was also backing lavish parties to be held in celebration of Ibori's "victory."
Several petitions by civil society groups however forced the troubled Federal High Court judge in Asaba, Marcel Awokulehin, to postpone his ruling. Saharareporters had reported that the judgment would be favorable to Ibori. Awokulehin disappointed James bori and his throng of supporters when he refused to give the judgement that would have quashed the 170-count charge of graft, money laundering and abuse of office proffered against Ibori at the court, which had been created specifically for Ibori.
Working with the recently retired Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Ibori had successfully chosen Awokulehin and the EFCC prosecutor, Ibrahim Isyaku (SAN) to "prosecute" him at the Federal High Court in Asaba in a building purchased and “donated” to the Federal High Court by the Delta State government.
The court building, which is in the residential area of the GRA in Asaba, ought to have been located in Warri. The Delta state government bought the building from a former Ibori special assistant and current Commissioner for Land and Surveys in the state, Barrister Raymond Guana. Most officials of the current Delta State cabinet, including the governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan and his deputy, Professor Utuama were indicted in the 170-count charge being tried by the Asaba judge.
In the University of Benin's search for a new speaker, the institution has now reached out to the former governor of Edo state, Oyegun and the Lagos state governor, Babatunde Fashola.
Ibori graduated from the University of Benin in 1986 with a third class in Economics and Statistics. His academic records were destroyed in a mysterious fire that gutted the records office in UNIBEN in the late 1990s.
Analysts say Professor Kubeyinje's reputation may have taken a serious hit, as he should have been more discerning in his consideration of the discredited and indicted ex-convict, who has become a byword for corruption and official looting in Nigeria, as the respected institution's convocation speaker.