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Ibori’s Bribe Money: Court Date Fixed - As Judgement Day Looms

A Federal High court in Abuja has fixed
judgement; on whether or not to grant
the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) leave
to furnish it with more facts on why the Delta State Government should not have
a $15 million dollars bribe allegedly traced to the former governor of the
state James Ibori, who is currently serving jail term in London.

The authority of EFCC is alleging that once the money is released to the
Delta State Government, it will have it transferred to the convicted
ex-governor of the state to enable settle his current ordeal at a London

It would be recalled Delta state had last
December 11, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, asked for time to respond to the
Federal Government’s application for extension of time to file the fresh

When the hearing resumed on the case, a heated arguments ensued between
lawyers representing the EFCC and the Delta state government over claims by the
commission that the state is pursuing a malicious and dubious interest in
laying claims to the bribe proceeds.

The EFCC went further to declare in an application for leave that it needs
more time to prove its claims that indeed the state wants the money in order to
do the bidding of Mr Ibori who it said is bent on wriggling out of a London

The Delta State counsel, the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for
Justice, Charles Ajuyah, had vehemently refuted the allegations of the EFCC.

Delta State Government also opposed the Federal
Government’s application seeking an extension of time to file another affidavit
in the controversial $15m cash allegedly received as bribe by the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission from former Governor James Ibori.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday,
counsel for the EFCC, which is claiming the cash on behalf of the Federal
Government, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), prayed the court presided over by Justice
Gabriel Kolawole, to grant the application in line with Order 48, Rule 4 of the

Jacobs informed the court that the Federal
Government was unable to file the application within the stipulated time
because of the heavy workload of counsel in the matter.

He further argued that granting the application
would promote the principle of fair hearing.

But Delta State Attorney-General and Commissioner
for Justice, Chief Charles Ajuyah (SAN), opposed the application, saying the
applicant’s claim that workload was responsible for its inability to file the application
on time was not tenable.

Ajuyah said, “The claim that heavy workload was
responsible for the late filing of the application does not explain anything.
Whose duty?  Whose workload? To allow such a filing to go on endlessly is
against public policy.

“Section 36 of the Constitution does not afford a
party an endless right to keep on filing processes.”

He further faulted the anti-graft agency for including claims that the state
was paying pension to the ex-governor which he insisted was not true.

According to Mr Ajuyah the Delta State Government plans to use the money for
infrastructural development.

However, Kolawole, while adjourning ruling on the
application to January 28, frowned on the parties’ wasting of time on
interlocutory applications.

The Court had on July 24, 2012, granted an interim order forfeiting the $15
million to the Federal Government.

The money had been kept in the strong room of the Central Bank of Nigeria as
an unclaimed property since August 2007.

In seeking to claim the cash, the Federal Government had claimed that the
said sum, “if left untouched and unspent in the state it was kept in the strong
room since April 2007, may eventually be destroyed, defaced, mutilated and
become useless.”

As part of the interim order, the court had ordered anyone interested in the
property to appear before it to show cause within 14 days why the final order
of forfeiture should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of

As a result, the Delta State Government applied to claim the money, saying
it belonged to the state.


Product Id: 100133
Posted By: Onitsha Shedrack
Country: Nigeria
Category: Politics
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