Recovered £4.2m Ibori loot returned to Delta state – Acc’nt General
By Nosa Akenzua
The £4.2m looted by former Delta governor, James Onanefe Ibori, and recently repatriated by the federal government from the United Kingdom, has been returned to Delta state, the accountant general of the federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, has confirmed.
Idris disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for Effective Efficient Management and Utilisation.
The accountant-general told the committee such funds looted from the treasury of a state were always returned to the state.
He added that states could sue the federal government to recover such funds.
In a swift reaction on Tuesday, however, the acting secretary to the Delta state government (SSG), Mr Reginald Bayoko, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for the gesture, adding “We are eternally grateful to President Mohammadu Buhari for returning the money to our state, Delta state. We have promised to use the money for projects execution and that is what Governor Ifeanyi Okowa will do to ensure transparency and accountability.”
Also speaking, Mr Charles Aniagwu, immediate past commissioner for information, said that “Mr President has demonstrated true leadership that Nigerians and Deltans will continue to treasure, especially without confiscating the money. Delta State is, today, being managed by a seasoned administrator who, before the money was returned, demonstrated that Delta state is working and he will continue to work for the benefit of Deltans.”
There was jubilation among the political class of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, including Ibori’s country home, Oghara, where political stakeholders were reported to have rolled out drums for celebration, closing various drinking joints in the area in ecstasy.
Recall that, at a media parley recently in Asaba, the state governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, had told journalists that the state government, through her lawyers, wrote President Muhammadu Buhari for the release of the money to the state, adding that “We stated in our letter, sufficient grounds on why the money should be released to the state or federal government to set up monitoring committee for projects execution and we listed five big projects that can be supervised by federal government.”
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has urged the Delta state governor to confirm receipt of the fund, publish details of how the returned loot would be spent and vowed to monitor its expenditure by the state government.
This was in a tweet by the organisation where they urged “Governor Okowa @IAOkowa to urgently confirm if Delta state has received the £4.2m Ibori loot, as stated today by AGF, Mr. Ahmed Idris. Mr. Okowa should publish details of how the returned loot will be spent. We’ll pursue accountability on how the money is spent.”
However, the opposition party in the state, the All Progressive Congress, APC, through its publicity secretary, Barr Sylvester Imonina, said that the money might not be used for the purpose it was canvassed, adding that the money “will not be used for the purpose it was canvassed and this will cause serious crisis in no distant time as, unfortunately, the federal government failed to adhere to the advice not to release the money.”