JUST AS A United Arab Emirates' court in Dubai ruled to extradite the former Delta State Governor James Ibori to the United kingdom to face corruption charges, a new book is revealing greater details of his alleged attempt to compromise the former EFCC Chairman Nuhu Ribadu with a $15m dollar cash bribe Empowered Newswire reports.
Entitled A Paradise for Maggots, the 464-page book is written by a US-based Nigerian Professor Wale Adebanwi was presented to the public yesterday in Abuja. According to some of the several revelations in the book, the former Delta State Governor was stealing about 75% of the state revenue and made the $15m bribe offer in cash to Ribadu at the residence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo's aide in Abuja.
Explaining why he wrote the book, whose forward was written by Nigeria's internationally fanous author, Prof. Chinua Achebe, Adebanwi, a journalist and political scientist said in a chat that "it is a Nigeria story and I started working on it while Ribadu was still in office.
Other revelations in the book includes how Ribadu said former president Obasanjo asked late Umaru Yar'Adua to go seek his support after Obasanjo had selected him to be the PDP candidate. It also detailed how Obasanjo's then Chief of Staff stopped the former president from accepting Ribadu's resignation letter when Obasanjo demanded that he apologise to former IG Tafa Balogun. Ribadu refused and offered to leave the EFCC then.
Quoting directly from Ribadu, the book disclosed "at a point, our investigations revealed that James was taking about seventy-five percent of the state's monthly revenue. James is a hopeless case. He cannot change; even though as an individual he is likeable, very warm. But I had a responsibility to do my work. He desperately wanted to stop me.
Conceding that both Ribadu and Ibori were somewhat friendly as Ibori will often call Ribadu IG, the book quoted Ribadu as saying the former Delta State Governor who is now facing extradition charges in Dubai expected Ribadu to stop EFCC investigation of his activities as Governor. At a point, Ribadu noted as the book shows that they both eventually agreed as Ibori wanted them to ÔÇśsettle'. The meeting point was at Andy Uba's house around the Presidential Villa. The book continued: "When they met, Ribadu claimed that Ibori brought along a bribe of $15 million in cash, ÔÇśin two bags'. Ribadu then called Ibrahim Lamorde, Ibrahim Magu and five other officers through the mobile phone to come to Uba's house to pick up the bribe." Continuing the book revealed that "Lamorde and his team took the two bags containing the bribe and drove straight to the Central Bank, as directed by Ribadu, to keep the money there as exhibit ÔÇô to be used whenever Ibori's trial would commence."
At the meeting where the money was delivered, the book revealed that nonetheless, "Nuhu told James that he would still need to come to the EFCC office to make a statement on the many allegations against him. Ibori agreed. But he never showed up. "It was clear to me that he thought he had bribed me and ÔÇśsettled' the matter. When I kept asking him to come, he told me that he could do more than what he had already given to me; that was a first installment' said Ribadu, as the book quoted.
On Ibori's refusal to show-up at EFCC's office, "Ribadu then announced to Ibori on the phone that, since he has refused to honour the invitation, he would be arrested." According to the book, "Ibori ran to Andy Uba's house to hide. When it became apparent to him that the EFCC had discovered his hide-out, he left Uba's house for Protea Hotel. When the EFCC operatives surrounded the Protea Hotel, he escaped and fled to Kwara State Governor's Lodge. His friend, Governor Bukola Saraki, was there too. Ribadu's agents again surrounded the house. At this point, Ribadu said he and Saraki were exchanging calls. No dice, Ribadu told Saraki."
Preceding his showdown with EFCC, the new book explained that "Ibori, who got along well with Nuhu Ribadu, had expected that the warm greetings he constantly exchanged with the man he called ÔÇśIG' when they met frequently in Abuja would be sufficient to get Ribadu off his back. He didn't realise that
while he and Ribadu pumped hands and shared jokes every time they met, the anti graft boss did not stop the investigations of Ibori's suspected corruption while in office." But when Ibori "realised that the EFCC had a lot of documents in its possession which might be used to prosecute him, and that Ribadu was ready for his arrest, Ibori sent messages to Nuhu asking that they should ÔÇśsettle'.
According to the book, Ibori had actually been encouraged to return back to Nigeria after his first flight to the US and Ghana on leaving power. "He was emboldened by the assurances he thought he had extracted from Ribadu when he fled the US for Ghana before he returned home. Shortly after he left office in May 2007 as governor, Ibori fled to the United States where he is suspected to have a lot of investments. But when he got information that the Florida State police was closing in on him over some investigations of money laundering and corruption, he fled the US for Ghana. While in Ghana, Ribadu said Ibori reached out to him. Ribadu encouraged him to return home." Therefore, the book went on "when Ibori returned home, he thought that, unlike the other governors already standing trial, he could be smarter."
Quoting Ribadu the book said "ÔÇśBukola [Saraki], James [Ibori] and I related very well. We met at the [Presidential] Villa and other places regularly. But that didn't mean that I shouldn't do my work. They
knew I was investigating them. They sometimes talked to me to stop the investigations,' Ribadu disclosed. ÔÇśI used to tell that we will settle the matter at the appropriate time. I never said I would stop the investigations.'
Ribadu in the book added that ÔÇśI assumed at a point that maybe the investigations would discourage them from stealing more." After Ibori eventually surrendered from his hiding place at the Kwara State Lodge and was arrested, Ribadu said the former Governor started begging him. ÔÇś"Please, please in the name of God You have destroyed me. Please help me" That was what he was saying. But I told him it was not personal. I told him that the law had to take its course. I reminded him about his cases in the UK. The international community will not take us seriously if we don't deal with his cases in Nigeria. That was what I told him," the book disclosed.