Justice Gabrael Kolawole of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja will September 20, 2013 deliver judgment on the ownership of the $15million Ibori Bribe which is the subject of legal tussle between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Delta State Government. The Delta State Government is claiming ownership of the money allegedly given by James Ibori, former governor of the state as bribe to stave-off arrest by former chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
The EFCC had in July 2012 approached the court through an ex- parte application, requesting for an order forfeiting the Ibori bribe which had been lying in the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria for more than five years to the Federal Government as unclaimed proceed of crime. Following the application, the court on July 24, 2012, ordered the EFCC to publish an interim order of forfeiture in a national newspaper (Thisday Newspaper), alerting any one with claim to the said money to state such claims within 14 days. Three parties, including the Delta state government indicated interest. While the others have since abandoned their claim to the Ibori bribe, Delta State government continues to pursue its claim.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, July 10, the EFCC closed its case, urging Justice Kolawole to dismiss the claim by the Delta State government to the fifteen million U.S Dollars Ibori bribe and order the final forfeiture of the sum to the Federal Government, in line with provisions of section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
It submitted that the Delta State government’s claim to the bribe lacked merit as the same government had in 2007 instituted an action against the Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation, stating that Ibori should not be investigated and that the state had lost no money from its treasury.
“ My Lord, it is too late for the Delta State Attorney General to lay claim to this money because of his action where he instituted a case against the Commission saying the governor should not be investigate”, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN. Counsel to the EFCC stated.
Jacob went on to reveal that in paragraph 10 of the affidavit deposed in the said case by the Delta State Attorney General, it was stated that the state Accountant General, after a thorough investigation, had concluded that no money was lost and that they have no complaint of any missing money.
The EFCC counsel further averred that the Commission having unequivocally stated that the money was given as a bribe and that no one has come up to claim ownership, Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences has given the court power to order the final forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.