It’ll be injustice, gross impunity not to return Ibori loot to Delta — Okowa’s aide
It’ll be injustice, gross impunity not to return Ibori loot to Delta — Okowa’s aide
It’ll be injustice, gross impunity not to return Ibori loot to Delta — Okowa’s aide
In response to the controversy surrounding the return of £4.2m stolen by former governor James Ibori to the Delta State Government, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Mr Olise Ifeajika, tells MATTHEW OCHEI the position of the state government
What is the position of the Delta State government on the Ibori loot that has now been repatriated?

Many people have spoken about it but negotiation is still on. We as a government have told them that the money belongs to Delta State and it should be given to us. That’s our position.

Delta State government once shied away from claiming the fund, now many people are of the opinion that it cannot turn around to lay claim to the funds, what changed?

It is not true. If you were following the event, the only time the state government talked about money not missing was the time when it had to do with £15m, which was a stand-alone matter, not the general loot. This is a different matter entirely.
If the Federal Government finally denies Delta State government the money, what will be the state’s next line of action?

When we get to the bridge we know how to cross it. We don’t think they will deny Delta State its money because we believe good reason and conscience will prevail. People have spoken about it, telling the Federal Government that this money belongs to Delta State. We know the Federal Government will do the needful.

Did Delta State government ever agree with the Federal Government and London Court that Ibori stole?

Like I said before, the one the state disagrees with was the £15m which was a stand-alone case and the state said such money was not missing.

Is the Delta State government okay with what the Federal Government wants to commit the Ibori loot to?

No, the state is not okay with that. You can see that many people are speaking about it, especially in a situation where we have many federal projects in the state that are in a sorry state. We in government have told them that even if they don’t want to give Delta State the money in cash, they should use it for projects in Delta State instead of using the money for projects outside Delta State. That they want to use it for Abuja-Kano Railway, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and such things is not fair to Delta State. If they don’t want to give Delta State the money, it will be unfair. It is Delta State’s money. If they think because they are fighting corruption and that they don’t want the money to be stolen, in their own estimation, whatever project they want to spend the money on should be in Delta State. There are a lot of Federal Government projects in Delta State; look at Benin-Warri-Sapele Road, Agbor-Abraka Road, Asaba-Illah-Ebu-Ubiaja Road and others. There are many roads the money can be used to fix. Even the United Kingdom that is repatriating the money knows that the money belongs to Delta State. It said it.

There are fears that since Ibori installed the present government in the state, the money could find its way back to Ibori if it’s given to the state, what is your reaction to this?

Ibori did not install the government of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. Don’t forget that Ibori wasn’t around at that time. Okowa’s emergence was because of his good followership. He got the mandate of Deltans, not just Ibori. Everybody was involved. He emerged by the grace of God and everybody supported him, including Ibori. Ibori was part of it as a Deltan. The insinuation that if the money comes it will be given back to Ibori is not true, no, it will not go back to him.

If the money is given to the state, who will monitor its spending and what projects would the state want to spend the money on?

Let the money come first. There are so many projects the money can be spent on in Delta State. That is not the issue; this government is a prudent government. You can see a lot of projects are being handled by the government. What Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is doing to check flood in Asaba is being replicated in Warri and Effurun areas and all these cost money. This can be done in other areas that have flood and erosion problems. In the Agbor axis, from Onicha-Ugbo to Ika land, there are ecological problems and the money can be used there also.

The insinuation beyond Delta State is that Ibori still has a hold on the state, is there a guarantee that Ibori will not be the one to supervise the disbursement of the funds?

If they think the money will not be managed well, the Federal Government should by itself spend the money on projects in Delta State. We are not against that if that is what it wants. The money belongs to Delta State. The right they have over it at the moment is because the UK government is dealing with the Federal Government on country-to-country basis, otherwise the UK government would have returned it to Delta State. It is only proper for the Federal Government to give it to Delta State and if they don’t give it to Delta State, it will be injustice and impunity. We have had presidents before, and when they recovered money from Diepreye Alameyeseigha, the then governor of Bayelsa State, the money was returned to Bayelsa State. When money was recovered from Joshua Dariye, the then governor of Plateau State, the money was returned to the state. So why will Delta State be different? They should not paint this with any political connotation. Remove politics from the Ibori loot and party affiliation. We still hope the Federal Government will listen to the voice of reasoning.

In this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *