By Zik Gbemre
Looking at the number of those that have already indicated interest to contest for the seat of the Delta State Governor in 2023, if I am the one in-charge of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I will have all Delta State governorship aspirants that were former members of the State’s Executive Council, as well as all the Commissioners under the James Ibori administration (1999 – 2007) DISQUALIFIED from the said governorship race. This is simply hinged on the fact that they were all part of those who were actively involved one way or the other, in the enormous looting of Delta State treasury under that government, which the British Government is graciously still trying to repatriate to Nigeria.
The truth is, if Nigeria was advanced like the countries in the West and Asia, those governorship aspirants who served under former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, should have disqualified themselves from contesting any executive position at any level of government in the State and across the country. Again, the reason for this is very obvious. They actively aided James Ibori to have successfully carried out his looting spree of Delta State funds, which eventually landed him in UK prison with his wife, sister, mistress and lawyer.
Like I have always asked, did Ibori singlehandedly stole the State’s money? Did he award fake/inflated contracts to himself? Was he the one that signed and approved cheques and transferred the monies himself, without the active collaboration/cooperation of his Commissioners, Aides and his then Accountant-General of Delta State? It is evident that everything about Ibori’s loot was actually an organised state crime.
Also, if I were in-charge of the anti-graft agencies like the EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau, as well as the Nigerian Police Force, I will start fresh financial crime cases against Ibori’s former Commissioners, Aides and Accountant-Generals, who were in the Government with him during his eight years in office. Especially when we consider the fact that Ibori was actually convincingly convicted by the UK crown court for money laundering which belonged to Delta State.
And now, the same money is being repatriated to Nigeria, and since the Delta State Government has owned up to admit these monies were stolen, hence they are asking the Federal Government to bring back the money to Delta State, then everyone that is behind the said looting of the State’s treasury should be made to face the music as well, and not only Ibori.
What other evidence does the anti-graft agencies/commissions need again to have these persons that were in that Ibori’s government brought to book as well? The relevant Delta State stakeholders have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to return the money to Delta State, or use the money to fund federal projects in Delta State since the money was stolen from Delta State. What stops the anti-graft agencies from taking action against these persons with immediate effect?
These people that were part of that Ibori’s looting era are now regrouping to try and take over the Delta State government after the tenure of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. These group of politicians who aided and collaborated with Ibori, need to be stopped from regrouping to be in the State Government again, where they will start another round of looting.
There are solid evidences to investigate all the 2023 governorship aspirants that were former Commissioners under James Ibori, to have them prosecuted appropriately with immediate effect. I believe this is the best line of action that should be taken by the country’s anti-graft agencies.
Especially if this federal government claims to be fighting corruption head long, is sincere. We ask that the right thing should be done appropriately to stop the regrouping of these governorship aspirants from contesting for the seat of the governor of Delta state come 2023.
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