The Delta State Government has described as unfair, the statement by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, that the looted funds recovered from ex-governor James Ibori of the state will be used to finance Federal Government projects.
Olisa Ifeajika, the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, who spoke with SaharaReporters on Wednesday, said the money recovered was allegedly laundered by ex-Delta State Governor, James Ibori, who is not an office holder at the federal level.
<span class="block-story-object-asset"><img class="media-element file-embedded" typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://secure.saharareporters.com/sites/default/files/styles/normal_medium/public/ibori.png?itok=BUIi_N_O" alt="" /></span><span class="block-story-object-content"><span class="block-story-object-content-header"><span class="block-story-object-content-header-description">Former Governor of Delta State, serving prison sentence in UK prison
Ifeajika described attempts to divert the money by the Nigerian government as impunity. The governor's aide added that it is unfair that the money is being diverted for some federal projects yet to be completed in some states when there are many of such unfinished projects in Delta state.
According to the Chief Press Secretary, there was no way the state government could negotiate with the government of the United Kingdom directly, which was why the Nigerian government had to take up the role.
He said, “We are not aware that Ibori held any position at the federal level, he was a governor of the state at the time. It was the state government's funds, even the federal government at that time said the money the former governor embezzled is from the state. Now the money is coming back and they don't want the state to be involved, it is wrong. That is some level of impunity. It is just like saying, ‘This money belongs to you, we are bringing it but we are not going to give it to you’. It is against natural justice, it is injustice.
“There was no way the Delta state government could have negotiated with another country, it had to be government to government, so the federal government played that role. The money ought to come naturally to the state government that everybody knows owns the money. The former governor of the state operated in Delta state as governor, he never functioned as a federal officer, not as a minister, not as anything at the federal level so he couldn't have got this money from there.
“If the money is coming back, it ought to come to the state government. What is so bad is that the federal government didn't even deem it necessary to consult with the state government on what to do with the money. If the federal government has a plan of not giving it to us to avoid embezzlement then it can be used for the development of the state. There is so much to be done in Delta state, even if they want to construct their federal roads, there are federal roads in Delta state that are highly dilapidated.
“If they had said they would deploy the money to federal government projects within the state, it would have been better. There are so many federal government projects in the state that needs attention, particularly roads and they are talking about the 2nd Niger bridge and all, projects that are not in Delta state. So, they want to use money meant for the state to do other things, it's not right. It is provocative. I saw in the news today that Ogara Development Union is already kicking, you don't do such.
“The money belongs to the state, it should be brought here, even if they want to complete some federal projects, it has to be within the state. What the federal government ought to have done is to consult. If the federal government feels they are the police of corruption, if they feel that if they give the money to the state, it will be misused, they can consult with the state government, let there be some sort of discussion to say, ‘okay this money is yours, we don't want it to come to you as cash but as projects'.
“Having spoken in the media, the next step might be the consultation.”
The United Kingdom had on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding to return the sum of £4.2 million (about N2. 2 billion) of stolen assets stolen by ex-Delta State Governor, James Ibori.
Malami, however, said the recovery of the stolen fund was part of the efforts of the current administration to fight corruption.
SaharaReporters, New York