By Zik Gbemre
With the apparent dust that is being raised every now and then concerning the former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, over his corrupt-ridden escapades as a former governor of Delta State, which got him convicted and landed him to serve a jail term in the UK, there is need to reconsider the subject question yet again.
Agreed that the former Delta State Governor, James Ibori stole so much money belonging to Delta State tax payers and the entire people living in the State, but was it possible for James Ibori to have stolen all that money from the State Government treasury alone, without the assistance and help by some principal officers of the then State Government? Is Ibori the only sinner to have done this? When we consider the fact that Ibori did not govern the State alone, then we would understand how relevant this question is?
As a Governor, Ibori had Commissioners, financial aides and senior civil workers that were duly appointed and promoted as part of his then State Cabinet. These Commissioners were approved by the then Delta State House of Assembly and all the Commissioners were sworn-in under oath by Governor Ibori then.
In other words, James Ibori could not have been the only ‘sinner’ (who stole Delta State funds) back then under his government, and as such, he should not be the only one being crucified in the public space presently.
It is not possible for only James Ibori to have looted Delta State public money without the aid/assistance of, at most, these two key Commissioners under Ibori – the Commissioner of Finance and Commissioner of Works.
Succinctly, as regard “Ibori’s Loot,” there is need to focus attention in this light as well. Who were the Commissioner(s) of Finance between 1999 to 2007? Who were the Commissioner(s) of Works between 1999 to 2007? Others that need to be considered too are: Who were the Secretaries to Delta State Government between 1999 to 2007? Who were the Commissioner(s) of Health between 1999 to 2007? Who were the Auditor-General(s) and Accountant-General(s) of Delta State between 1999 to 2007?
It is without a doubt that all these people must have had their hands, one way or the other, in all the looting/plundering of Delta State public funds that took place under Ibori’s reign in Government between 1999 to 2007. Is it possible for only the then Governor, Ibori, to have stolen all the public resources he did without the active involvement of these people? Absolutely not!
These questions are important to ask and consider because, though Ibori was Governor then, but he could not have on his own, dipped his hands into the public purse to move the said loot out of the State’s treasury. How did those money got moved? Should Ibori take the entire blame alone? What were the roles of these other principal officials in all of this at that time? No dime of Delta State could have been stolen/moved by Ibori without the authorization of the then Commissioner of Finance for instance. He was the one in-charge of the State’s finance. But why has no one been beaming the search light on these former Commissioners under Ibori then? Why is Ibori the only one being castigated and seen as the only sinner in this entire fraudulent case?
As noted by another concerned Nigerian on this issue: “It will appear reasonable to know about approvals that gave room for the looting of Delta state. Some key men may have also played some roles behind the scene, pooling the strings of corporate legal fraud of awarding questionable contracts and approval of money during Ibori’s administration. Two commissioners during Ibori’s administration should not be far away from a conspiracy that facilitated the laundering of funds from the oil-rich Delta State and substantive accounts.
“Records show how Chief Ibori had about 17 bank accounts linked to him in different locations across the world, large sums of money went into these accounts and Ibori never explained the sources of money in his accounts. Does his silence proved that his Commissioners did not play any role in terms of generating and movement of the money? There is the need for some of his then cabinet members to come clean and explain to Deltans. In 1999 to 2004, Delta State Government officials were used to write cheques, which they subsequently cashed and then deposited into accounts linked to Ibori. These monies were later siphoned out of the local accounts to those his associates operated in the United Kingdom (UK) and elsewhere. The question is, who was the Commissioner of Finance, who approved the movement of the money from the government treasury? In June 1999, a Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning was appointed, he served till 2003 and his tenure ended. In 2015, he was again appointed as Commissioner of Finance, for the third time he occupied that position until May 2019, nothing has been said about how Billions left Delta state and out of the country.
“Delta state is richly blessed with LOYAL POLITICIANS and POWER SEEKERS who give no hoot of who did the looting but more interested in the political benefit and proceeds of corruption despite the economic gloom, unemployment, business collapses, industrial death that now pervades the entire Delta state. More to be bothered about is the plundering and exploitation of Delta State by politicians who live in affluence by taking the resources of the common man. It is a fact that over 108 of the ongoing roads projects, for which contracts have been awarded since 2015, were inherited from the Governors James Ibori and Emmanuel Uduaghan administrations. Many could be justified to think that the Commissioner of Works during Ibori’s administration may have approved fake contracts to fool Deltans and created a means by which misappropriation was normalized.”
Having considered these questions, l strongly believe that there is the urgent need for the EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau, and all other relevant Federal agencies, SHOULD BEAM THEIR SEARCH LIGHT ON ALL OF THESE STATED FORMER COMMISSIONERS/GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS that served under James Ibori between 1999 to 2007. There is need to consider WHAT WAS THEIR WORTH BEFORE 1999? PARTICULARLY THAT OF THE FORMER FINANCE COMMISSIONER OF DELTA STATE UNDER JAMES IBORI BACK THEN WHEN HE WAS GOVERNOR?
WHAT WERE THE BANK ACCOUNT DETAILS OF THESE FORMER COMMISSIONERS UNDER IBORI? WHERE WERE THEY LIVING THEN? AND WHERE ARE THEIR HOMES NOW? How would they have come with practically nothing into the State Government, and suddenly elevated their status as millionaires/billionaires, having aided in the looting? And now, they are regrouping to be in the next Government after Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
It is no longer news that Ibori looted the Delta State treasury to a bleeding point, judging by all the recoveries made so far by the British Government. But all of Ibori’s former Commissioners should also be made to feel the heat by anti-graft agencies. It is apparent to all Deltans that they all colluded with Ibori to steal the State’s funds with reckless abandon and impunity. I repeat, Deltans should demand and ask for all their bank details as supposed public officers, before they were appointed by Ibori as Commissioners, and what the said accounts became within the period of that Government (1999 – 2007)?
We can no longer seat back and allow these evil to slide. These people need to be exposed for all to see them for who they really are. They need to answer some of these questions. What earned them the money, which they have been using to fluent around?
Like I said before, we cannot blame Ibori alone without these Commissioners and aides under Ibori’s Government then. The people of Delta State must first take hold of their own collective destiny, as responsible indigenes of the State, and citizens of the Country. As noted by the said concerned Nigerian in the above quotes: “Delta state must be liberated from the economic killers, looters And Job-Men who lack consideration of the fact that Delta state as a state to invest the money they have collected from the state through various means. Deltans should hold its leaders accountable to invest in the state, not outside, those without investment in Delta state should not be taken seriously in 2023.”
The say: “Warri (and by virtue Delta State) no de carry last.” But Delta State is today one of the most backward States in the country, despite its enormous wealth and resources. A greater number of our youths are either into internet fraud (as yahoo-yahoo), or they are tools in the hands of politicians as hangers-on, aides-without-defined portfolios. Or they are into all kinds of crime from kidnapping, armed robbery, illegal bunkering, and so on and so forth. While those who want to be responsible have flooded all the cities as either commercial Tricycle (Keke) or Motorcycle (Okada) riders. The State infrastructure has not been what it is supposed to be, judging by the kind of funds at the Governments disposal from 1999 till date. Our children are no where amongst the best in national and international external exams because our Education sector is nothing but decorated structures without content. Our health sector is nothing to write home about? And the list goes on. Hence, there is the need for those who were in the State’s Government space, to be made to face the full weight of the law, and account and pay for all the atrocities they have committed against the State, which have contributed in making the people of the State so impoverished and backward.
There is the need to do this, otherwise posterity will not forgive us if we fold our hands and allow this State to be continually enslaved and further destroyed by these set of former and present political leaders. Again, this nonsense has to stop!
March 29, 2021
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