Saturday, 25 May 2013
Jailed Ibori Uses Newspaper Advert To Congratulate Alamieyeseigha On Birthday
Imprisoned former Governor James Onafefe Ibori of Delta State today bought a full-page advert in a Nigerian newspaper to congratulate his peer, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, on his
60th birthday. Mr. Alamieyeseigha was a former governor of Bayelsa State. Like Mr. Ibori, he was ensnared in legal trouble in the UK for his money laundering activities. He escaped from UK authorities and arrived in Nigeria where he was tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and jailed.
Mr. Ibori’s preposterous birthday message to his fellow criminal appeared on page 16 of The Nation newspaper which is owned by former Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State, himself a hugely corrupt politician.
Mr. Ibori hailed Mr. Alamieyeseigha as “governor-general of the Ijaw Nation.” In the four-paragraph statement, former Governor Ibori also sympathized with Mr. Alamieyeseigha over the latter’s ostensible persecution. He encouraged the former Bayelsa governor to seek solace in the purported confidence of Ijaw people in him. Mr. Ibori also expressed confidence that Mr. Alamieyeseigha would be vindicated in future. He concluded by wishing that the former Bayelsa governor would enjoy a “rich and rewarding” life he has succeeded in making for himself.
A source close to those who recently saw Mr. Ibori in his British jail reported that the former governor, who styled himself the “Ogidigbodigbo of Africa,” had turned into “a humble Christian.” In his birthday felicitations to his fellow jail-bird former governor of Bayelsa, Mr. Ibori wrote, “I join your numerous well-wishers to thank the good God who has kept you alive despite the vicissitudes of life – the lies and ill-treatment – that came your way just because of crass and debilitating politics.”
Last April, Mr. Ibori is currently serving a thirteen-year jail term after he pleaded guilty before a Southwark Crown Court to charges of monumental corruption and money laundering offence. Mr. Ibori was tried for stealing public funds that exceeded $250 million and diverting them to offshore personal accounts using UK banks and financial institutions. The massive loot enabled Mr. Ibori to acquire real estate in the UK and other countries as well as private jets and expensive cars.
UK law enforcement authorities determined that Mr. Ibori and former Governor Victor Attah of Akwa Ibom State collaborated in one of the corrupt schemes. The two former governors formed a phantom company known as ADF and used it to siphon about $37.5 million from Delta and Akwa Ibom states’ shares in a fraudulent V-Mobile deal.
A Nigerian court presided over by Justice Marcel Awokulehin had initially acquitted Mr. Ibori of all charges, before the hands of the British law caught up with him and tried him properly in the UK. SaharaReporters revealed that Justice Awokulehin had accepted a $5 million bribe to set the former governor free.
With credit for his time in detention both in the United Arab Emirate and the UK, Mr. Ibori is expected to spend approximately seven years in jail.
In July 2007, Mr. Alamieyeseigha was convicted after pleading guilty to six charges before a Nigerian court. Transparency groups as well as the EFCC accused him of embezzling millions of dollars of the state’s earnings from oil revenues. Mr. Alamieyeseigha acquired a huge stake in an oil refinery in Ecuador and bought several houses in London, California and South Africa.
President Goodluck Jonathan was a deputy to Mr. Alamieyeseigha during the latter’s tenure as Bayelsa governor. A source close to Mr. Jonathan told SaharaReporters that Mr. Alamieyeseigha had pleaded with his erstwhile deputy to grant him presidential pardon. “Chief Alamieyeseigha has begged Mr. President for pardon to enable him regain political relevance after his conviction tarnished his image, but President Jonathan has been reluctant,” said the source. He added that Mr. Jonathan “wants to avoid conveying a worse impression about his administration’s attitude towards corruption.” Many Nigerians rate the current president as one of their most corrupt rulers in recent times.
This June, United States Department of Justice seized the sum of $401,931 traced to Mr. Alamieyeseigha in a Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC account in Massachusetts. In July, US authorities also seized $3 million in funds looted by Mr. Ibori.
Last month, the Nigerian government said it was taking steps to recover Mr. Alamieyeseigha’s loot seized by the US government. The disclosure came after an advocacy group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), pressured the Jonathan administration.