James Ibori is a coward - Chief Edwin Clark

Monday, April 26, 2010

Embattled former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori

By Olusola Fabiyi and Kazeem Ibrahym

A former Minister of Information and prominent leader in South-South, Chief Edwin Clark, has described the former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, as a coward.

The action of the former governor, who had been declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Niger Delta leader said, had shown that he was not a courageous person.

Clark, who spoke exclusively with our correspondent in Abuja on Friday, said that since Ibori had claimed to be innocent of allegations levelled against him by the anti-graft agency, he had thought that he would come out of his hiding and clear his name.

He wondered why it was difficult for the EFCC to arrest Ibori when he was being guarded by riot policemen, who he said, were all answerable to the Federal Government.

The former minister said, "He is a coward. If he is not, let him come and defend himself of all the allegations, after all, he has been saying he is not guilty.

"There is no harm in levelling allegations against anyone, but if you know you have nothing to hide, then come out and offer explanations.

"If the government really wants him arrested, they should ask the policemen attached to him. How can the EFCC be looking for him yet the man is surrounded by riot policemen? If you go to Oghara now, it is like a semi-headquarters of riot policemen."

The former governor, who was declared wanted by the EFCC 12 days ago, has since gone into hiding.

Ibori was declared wanted following a fresh N44bn fraud allegation levelled against him by Delta State Elders, Leaders and Stakeholders Forum led by Clark.

The elders had sent their petition dated March 8, 2010 to the EFCC's Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri.

The elders who signed the petition were Clark, Chief Patrick Ideh, Dr. Richard Tosanwumi, Col. G.A.Eboma (rtd), Chief Hope Erute, Chief Williams Ekpebitere, Sir Eddy Akangbou, Dr. B.K Adasen, Prince A. Abugbo and Benson Lelekumo.

Copies of the petition were sent to the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan; the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN) and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi.

They demanded the commission to find out whether it was right to use the state government's shares to obtain N44bn private loan from a bank.

They further alleged that there was evidence that shares worth N528.010m in Oceanic Bank belonging to Delta State Government was used to guarantee over N44bn granted Ascot Offshore Nigeria Limited by Intercontinental Bank Plc.

Meanwhile, as the police intensify manhunt for Ibori, an ex-militant leader in the Niger Delta, Mr. Nico Sintei, has urged the former governor to surrender himself to the police.

Sintei, who spoke with our correspondent on Friday, said the only option left for Ibori was to come out from his hideout and make self available to security operatives.

The ex-fighter argued that it was not possible for the former governor to escape from justice, stating that it was necessary for him to face the law.

According to him, Ibori should see his current travail and the need to present himself to the police as an opportunity to clear his name of any wrongdoing.

"He (Ibori) should surrender himself to the police. That is the best thing he should do for now. He cannot run away from the government and that is the fact.

"Anybody that is involved in militancy and is parading himself as a Niger Delta militant is a criminal and should be treated as such.

"Nobody is too big for the law and it is normal that the law should take its course," Sintei, who was the leader of a militant group known as Niger Delta Freedom Fighter noted.

He denied claims that those purportedly shielding the former governor from arrest were Niger Delta militants.

Branding those protecting Ibori from arrest as common criminals, Sintei stressed that former militants had surrendered their weapons and embraced the Federal Government amnesty programme.

Meanwhile, Clark also denied having reached any pact with the Acting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, to shop for someone to be made the governor of Delta State in 2011.

He said while the allegation was not true, he also did not need the directive of Jonathan to make anyone governor because "I am a grass root man."

He called on the governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, to accord his (Clark's) faction of the party recognition by appointing them into his cabinet.

Source: www.punchng.com

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