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Ibori 'regains' power-National Daily

March 12, 2008
FORMER Delta State Governor; Chief James Onanefe Ibori who was granted bail by the Federal High Court, Kaduna recently after spending about 60 days in detention following his arraignment over charges bordering on money laundering and stealing of public funds may have warmed himself back into the corridors of power at the highest level as his recent appearances at the presidency seemed to suggest.

Sources close to Aso Rock revealed that Ibori who was at the Presidential Election Tribunal, Abuja last Tuesday during judgement on the petitions filed against President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress(AC) and General Mohammadu Buhari of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) was not only there in solidarity with the President but to convince doubting Thomases that he was still very relevant in the power arena irrespective of his recent travails in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

Sources at the Aso Rock Villa disclosed that after the solidarity event, a vibrant James Ibori stayed back to pressure Yar'Adua to take him on the presidential jet with him on the trip to China, a decision that would allow him to retrieve his international passports deposited with the Federal High Court, Kaduna with ease.
Though some Nigerians believe that the ex-governor ought to have maintained a low profile appearance in public places until his corruption case at the court is over, his current high profile appearance speaks of a loud announcement that he has returned to power and reckoning in the political scheme.

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National Daily gathered from several lawyers involved in the presidential election petitions tribunal case, that James Ibori may have been involved in financing legal fees of lawyers defending Yar'adua at the tribunal despite his prison travails in the hands of the EFCC, an act that has earned him a comfortable place in the kitchen cabinet of Yar'Adua as soon as he stepped out of the Kaduna prison.

Sources at the Presidency disclosed that since his release from detention, he has been very much concerned about who succeeds Malam Nuhu Ribadu, the EFCC Chairman who is currently on a one year study leave at the Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru Jos.

He is said to be making overtures to the Presidency on the choice of successor to Ribadu. Unconfirmed reports hinted that the rumours swirling about that a retired woman Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Farida was being considered for the top job with a possible redeployment of the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde was linked to aides of James Ibori and a serving governor, who sees the undying profile of Nuhu Ribadu as a dreadful signal that his return to the EFCC was a possibility at the end of his current course at NIPSS .

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Besides Ibori's worries over who succeeds Ribadu at EFCC, it was gathered that the re-assignment of his case to another judge at the Federal High Court, Kaduna takes priority on his agenda for now. One of the ex-governor's aides told National Daily at the weekend that it has become necessary to ask for the re-assignment of the case from Justice Mohammed Lawal Shuaibu to another judge on the “ground of bias”.

The aide could not elaborate more or say whether the case which was adjourned to Wednesday March 5, 2008 would proceed under the same presiding judge or Ibori's defence team would insist on the re-assignment of the case before any other development. Effort to speak the ex-governor's lawyers as at press time was unsuccessful.

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