Desperate, the established serial thief who was once governor of Delta State, James Ibori, is well underway in his character-laundering scheme, a project Saharareporters forewarned Nigerians about on September 23.
One of Ibori’s main themes is also to smear the name of Saharareporters, as if that will make him appear to be innocent. Ibori told a TV Continental interviewer in Lagos last Saturday, for instance, that his multiple convictions for stealing and dishonesty in London are only from the imagination of Saharareporters.
This is proof that the Ibori is also a serial liar. But by choosing this approach, he gives us an opportunity to remind Nigerians of how early his life of crime began, and remind Ibori himself that the court of public opinion is based not on conjecture, but on facts. If Ibori has become a symbol of greed and corruption in Nigeria, it is from the work of his own heart and his own hands.
Was Ibori ever convicted in London, England? Yes, and Yes! The documents here are proof of his crimes and convictions. He was convicted, first for theft in 1990, charged before the Uxbridge Magistrates on August 28 1990, Ibori and his current wife first wife, Theresa Nkoyo were convicted for the offence in January 1991 at the Isleworth Crown Court and again in 1991, he stole an American Express Gold Card belonging to Sean Burns. The Clerkenwell Magistrates Court in London convicted Ibori in 1992
Was he convicted in Nigeria? Yes, He Was! Following his graduation from his criminal activities in the UK and arrival into the embrace of the murderous Abacha regime, he was also convicted in Nigeria by the Bwari Upper Area Court in Abuja, according to the judge who tried and convicted Ibori for stealing building materials from a construction site in Abuja.
We publish these records because he is working very hard to sell his own propaganda to the people he robbed, cheated and lied to, in the first place. Suddenly finding his voice in recent weeks, he has embarked on a whirlwind media tour arranged by his aides and Mayor Akinpelu, a Lagos-based tabloid journalist and “glamour boy.”
Saharareporters did warn Nigerians that Ibori was embarking a disinformation campaign to twist facts and logic regarding his criminal history and the story of his unprecedented looting of the treasury of Delta State while he was governor between 1999-2007.
Ibori’s new grand plan is meant to divert attention from the trial of his associates in London and the trial of his wife which begins soon. It is also a strategy aimed at avoiding answering the EFCC’s invitation to him and his former Commissioner for Finance-turned-Yar’Adua’s Principal Private Secretary, David Edevbie, to explain how they used Delta State shares as collateral for the loan with which they bought Wilbros Nigeria Limited, using a front comapny, Ascot Offshores Limited.
In preparation for the propaganda blitz, his media aide, Tony Eluemunor, had been working hard to manipulate the local media, principally ThisDay and Vanguard newspapers. Those papers seemed so cozy with their private understanding they often lifted Eluemunor’s press releases and published them as news with or without bylines or attribution.
By last week, however, that fragile coalition seemed to be on the rocks. ThisDay editors told Saharareporters that they regretted the unprofessional acts by “one” of their reporters, Francis Ugwoke, whom they claimed had been “punished” in house. Curiously, the newspaper did not apologize to its readers as promised, at least in their online edition.
Vanguard also ran into troubled waters when it found that a section of Nigerians had began a boycott campaign against the paper, leading its editors to issue a press release to complain that they were being “targeted.”
If there was any doubt in the past, our publication of these reports again restates the truth: Ibori is a repeat ex-convict. We have made up no reports about him. Whatever his “friendly” newspapers and other Nigerian mainstream journals now say, it would be interesting to see if they put these documents before Ibori and ask him to deny them. We also encourage Nigerians to print or photocopy them, as they are useful in rule-of-law and reign-of-corruption arguments with Umaru Yar’Adua or Michael Aondoakaa; ‘Rebrand Nigeria’ encounters with Minister Dora Akunyili, or even for new T-shirt designs.
Meanwhile, Ibori’s false confidence is based on his deep control over the Yar’Adua regime; his connections within Nigeria’s judiciary that enable him to secure bizarre rulings from magistrates to the Supreme Court; as well as his membership of the shadowy National Intelligence Agency (NIA) of Nigeria.
That sham confidence applies to his so-called trial which comes up at the Federal High Court in Asaba on 26 October. Ibori and the Nigeria’s notorious Attorney General, acting on the directive of Umaru Yar’Adua, have given Ibori’s handpicked Federal High Court judge Justice Marcel Awokulehin two weeks from that date to discard of the Ibori case under a term known as “Operation Zuma”. It is not clear why it is called “Operation Zuma,” but it would be recalled that in South Africa, Jacob Zuma triumphed over corruption charges to emerge President. There have been reports in recent months that Yar’Adua intends to make Ibori his vice-presidency candidate when he runs for the 2011 elections. Ibori confided in journalists during his Lagos media tour that he got clearance from Yar’adua to embark on the media tour.
Nonetheless, and regardless of what the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) tells Nigerians, they are deeply involved in “Operation Zuma,” which is at the minimum a plot to grant Ibori another free ride away from his crimes of stealing, abuse of office, corruption and dishonesty.
What is important by way of the documents attached here is where Ibori’s name and legacy will go. These documents are evidence that James Ibori was never qualified, in the first place, to be governor of Delta State in 1999 and thereafter. By Nigerian law, his tenure as governor of Delta State, obtained fraudulently by perjury, did not happen, and is therefore null and void.