Former Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan on Tuesday warned opportunistic politicians and others posting pictures of their London visit to his predecessor in office, the internationally-infamous James Ibori, to recognize they are creating more problems for their hero.
Mr. Ibori, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison by the Southwark Crown Court in April 2012 after pleading guilty to a 10-count charge of money laundering and corruption, was released last week to a halfway house in preparation for hearings over the lavish real estate and other property confiscated from him.
As a consequence of his spectacular looting, several people close to him were also sent to jail for various fraud and money laundering offences. They include his wife and former Delta State First Lady, Theresa NkoyoIbori; his mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo; his UK lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil; his sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie; as well as two financial advisers, Daniel McCann and Lambertus De Boer.
Just last year, Rowland Nakanda, an older brother of Teresa Ibori, was also sent to jail for two counts of money laundering. The police proved that after the Iboris were sentenced, Mr. Nakanda became one of the guardians of their three children in England.
Among others, the police said, Mr. Nakanda continued to pay the massive private school fees of the children, in cash, in an effort to avoid attention. On one occasion, he paid over £15,000 in school fees over the counter for two of the children, enough money to run entire schools or hospitals in Delta State.
Since Mr. Ibori’s release last week, the Delta State political elite, appearing to approve of his scorched-earth looting of a state that should be one of Nigeria’s most developed, has shamelessly besieged the city of London in a frenzied pilgrimage to dance with him.
Concerned by the way that pictures of those visits and the statements by Mr. Ibori’s visitors are being uploaded on social media, Mr. Uduaghan urged those responsible for them to desist so as to avoid unwanted additional problems for their hero.
It would be recalled that last week, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North Senatorial District) and one of those sponsored into political ascendancy by Mr. Ibori, was one of the early visitors. Sounding inebriated, he spoke about Mr. Ibori in heroic terms of a man who has become one of the world’s best-known thieves.
In a video of the event posted by SaharaReporters, the Senator, who himself earlier this year infamously sponsored a legislative effort to decriminalize corruption, bragged about how politically powerful in Nigeria Mr. Ibori has remained, affirming that even while behind bars in the United Kingdom, the disgraced former governor has somehow been a pillar of support for such political heavyweights as Nigeria’s #3 man,Senate President Bukola Saraki, and House Speaker Dogara.
Mr. Uduaghan, who is a cousin of Ibori and who had also been anointed to the governorship by Mr. Ibori, took to his Facebook account today, describing Nigeria as a “complex” country, and warning in coded language that people must “understand and respect the sensibilities” of others.
"For those going to London to see Chief James Iboriand posting pictures and making statements, please stop it,” the former governor warned. “We appreciate your love for him. But you can go quietly without the unnecessary publicity.”
Evidently worried as to what might happen after Mr. Ibori is deported into the hands of the Nigerian government, he said, "You are creating more problems for him than you can ever imagine. Nigeria is a complex country and you must understand and respect people's sensibilities.”
EFCC sources have indicated that the former governor, who escaped from a compromised EFCC in Nigeria in 2012 before he was extradited to the United Kingdom where he was then put on trial, will be prosecuted for various offences when he returns. This is in opposition to the situation in Delta State, where the red carpet is being spread out for Mr. Ibori to walk.