“I’m not a thief; I can’t be a thief”, James Ibori says at thanksgiving service

James Ibori at the special thanksgiving in warri on Sunday [Photo credit: John Ochuko Jobes/ a staff of Delta State Government House]
James Ibori at the special thanksgiving in warri on Sunday [Photo credit: John Ochuko Jobes/ a staff of Delta State Government House]

Embattled former Delta State governor, James Ibori, says he was wrongly accused and maligned by those who typecast him as a thief.

Mr. Ibori , who recently returned to Nigeria after serving jail term in the United Kingdom for corruption, made the remark at a special thanksgiving held in his honour, at the First Baptist Church in Oghara, Delta State on Sunday.

Speaking to the mammoth congregation, Mr. Ibori said he was wrongly accused and that the biggest pain he felt aside from his travails was the anguish his people went through because of his absence.

The former governor, who hailed the crowd of politicians, clergy, traditional rulers and other enthusiasts, said he was aware those behind his travails wanted to separate him from his people.

He said: “They want me to go to the corner where I won’t be seen. Today, I have decided to speak for myself. I am not a thief; I cannot be a thief. Today is the day they say I should give testimony to God. For those who know me, you know that my life is a testimony itself. I have said it over and again that my life is fashioned by God, directed by God, sealed, acknowledged and blessed by God. I believe that since the day I was born.

“Like the Archbishop said, when this whole commotion started, what was most painful to me was the pain and suffering that my people were going through.

“It has nothing to do with me as a person because, for some reasons, like I said to you, I drew my strength from God. So, somehow, I knew that God would stand by me. I knew that one-day, this day would come. I am indeed very pleased that I can now stand before you and look at your faces, the faces that I have missed, and those of you who have indeed suffered the pains of my absence. It has nothing to do with me.

“So, when I reflect, it gives me joy that all your prayers, God has answered them, with your support and solidarity with me all through this period. It is indeed not what I can begin to say.

“The only testimony that I have is the fact that I am back and alive in your midst. And again, I say that I never had any doubt in my mind that I would get back home.

“When I looked at how things were going, I discovered that they wanted to separate me from you, my people. They wanted me to go to the corner where I wouldn’t be seen. That’s how I see it. At a point, I called my older brother (former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan): ‘How to get home is what I am about to do now’. It was a pragmatic decision.

“I am happy to be home with my people. There is nobody who can battle with the Lord. An Urhobo adage says there is time for everything (okiemute). A day will come when I will tell my story and every one of you will hear me. Today is to thank God,” he said.

Mr. Ibori was convicted of corruption and money laundering on April 17, 2012, after five years of trial.

The Southwark Crown Court, UK, sentenced him to 13 years in prison while his houses, luxury cars and other property items were confiscated.

The judge, however, ruled that Mr. Ibori would spend half of the jail term, which is six and half years.

Born on Aug. 4, 1959, Mr. Ibori was the governor of Delta from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).


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  • Victor

    God is merciful sha. Otherwise by the time some people finish one sentence, thunder for don smash dem.

    • tundemash

      And to know that some yeye “archbishop” presided over this shameful “thanksgiving” is troubling !

      • Tunsj

        You got that right.

  • Abdullah Musa

    You are covered!
    Your Leader/kinsman says mere stealing is not corruption.
    But why not sue UK government at the Hague for wrongful imprisonment?

  • Rommel

    Were Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini to still be alive today,I am sure he would have said same thing so no surprise here

  • ijelejames

    Ibori, you are a liar, a swindler, a con man and a thief. So you are worse than a thief. Continue lying, soon thunder will fire you.

    • Dambaski

      Amen and Amen

  • dami

    James – you pleaded guilty in this case and you have also been jailed earlier for theft in a previous case, so you are a thief, however you have paid your dues to society by spending time in prison, so learn from your mistakes and move on….trying to say the opposite means you still have not learnt which is unfortunate.

  • AryLoyds

    Ibori is not a thief , he is an arm robber:)

  • SamPsalm

    He is not a thief. He is a Thieves-Thief. Not to acknowledge that is to insult his legacy. Take five for standing up for your earned stature

  • thusspokez

    Ibori’s other criminal activities in the UK

    1991: Ibori was convicted in the UK for stealing, in cahoots with his wife who worked as a cashier, from the Neasden, London, branch of the DIY shop Wickes.

    1992: Ibori was again found guilty for being in possession of a stolen credit card and having used it to fraudulently withdraw $1,590.

    Ibori fellow ex-convicts

    1. Theresa Ibori — wife
    2. Christine Ibori — sister
    3. Udoamaaka Okoronkwo — mistress
    4. Bhadresh Gohil — London solicitor

  • thusspokez

    “Like the Archbishop said, when this whole commotion started, what was most painful to me was the pain and suffering that my people were going through.

    British police accused ex-convict Ibori of stealing $250m (£160m) over eight years. Three of the money-laundering charges relate to the sale of Delta state’s share in mobile phone company V-Mobile to neighbouring Akwa Ibom state. This raised $37m which Ibori stole and laundered through his solicitor Gohil, who has been jailed for 10 years.

    So much for “suffering that my people were going through.”

  • TruthHurts

    It is eviden that churches are now being run by mega evil rogues, else a terrible wicked armed robber like Ivorian with no remorse for the countless deaths he caused his people with his criminality would have been humble enough to ask his people for forgiveness rather than their usual arrogance. He is bold enough to stand before God in his alter to tell God that He cannot do anything.
    No more fear of God but he fears evil British and their court to plead guilty rather than maintain his so-called ‘innocent’ if indeed he is, at least we know there’s little or no chance of torture in England to force someone to admit guilt under durex.
    Criminals thrives in the evil no mans land called Nigeria. That was why he was quick to denied being a Biafran, even though that was the only reason British wish to destroy him and Alayemesia, but never touch any of the mindless Islamist Hausa-Fulani or their Yoruba allies.
    Likes of Ivorian will never want Biafra where the criminality will be checkmated. But bad news to them is that Nigeria is already finished and Biafra will take back its rightful place in Africa and World. Case rests.

    • OJERINDE, Olatunde A.

      Don’t worry, Ibori wil be the first president of biara and we shal know which is finished, nigeria or biafra….

  • FreeNigeria

    Only in Nigeria such a shameless, wicked and corrupt in the brain is celebrated, when he should have been stoned.

    • No-Comment

      @disqus_vNgNHRex1N:disqus

      James Ibori: A thief in thief’s clothing

      “James Ibori, former governor
      of Delta state, admitted 10 counts of conspiracy to defraud and money
      laundering. Southwark Crown Court was told the amount he stole from the people
      of Delta state was “unquantified”. James Ibori, a former London DIY
      store cashier who became governor of an oil-rich Nigerian Delta state has been
      jailed for 13 years for fraud totalling nearly £50m ($77m). The Southwark Crown
      Court heard James Ibori camJames e to the UK in the 1980s and worked as a cashier at
      a Wickes DIY store in Ruislip, north west London. James Ibori was later
      convicted in 1991 of stealing from the store but then returned to Nigeria and
      began his climb up the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) network.”

      ………………BBC News

      (April 17th, 2012)

  • Remi

    Logically speaking James Ibori is not a “thief”. That appellation is for the small fries. He is
    actually a “Smart Thief”. And that was why he cleverly refused to contest any
    of the charges levelled against him in the British Court. Apparently, the British investigators had information
    about more of his malfeasance, which they unfortunately could not prove, as he
    was able to use legal loop holes to run circles around them. So, they charged him for the ones they could
    prove, in the hope that he would contest those charges and thus give them the
    opportunity to put him in the dock and question him under oath, when it would
    have been possible to get him to recant. However, and unfortunately for Nigeria
    – as he still has some of our stolen money in his custody – the smart thief saw
    through their ploy and quickly accepted all the 8, or so, charges levelled
    against him. And, so much for someone who now claims he is not a thief and one
    who had previously “vigorously and successfully” contested over 200 corruption charges
    levelled against him in a Nigerian Court.
    I know of no culture or (ethnic) nation in Nigeria where the family and personal
    name is not valued; and would therefore not go to great extent to contest any
    attempt to blacken such names. Hence, the question to ask Ibori, is why he did
    not contest all those weighty charges levelled against him in the British
    Court?

    I gather that the Nigerian government is also planning to
    re-arraign him. I hope they will be able to use those other “sweetly persuasive
    techniques”, which the British investigators could not use, to get him to recant,
    and get more of our patrimony from him.

    • Sean

      What a post! Grammatically sound, informative and educative.. you wrote this in prose and I duff my hat sir

    • Tunsj

      Eloquently and accurately stated. “Smart Thief” is the best description of this rogue. He should be ashamed of himself.

  • Shahokaya

    You be thief, I no be thief . I totally agree with Ibori. How can he be call a thief when the courts in Nigeria did not find him guilty. His sentence by the British Judge is a continuation of colonialism .

  • KAL

    *COMPARE AND CONTRAST*

    *Bishop’s Sermon at James Ibori’s Thanksgiving Service:

    “In his sermon, the officiating Minister, Arch Bishop Goddowell Awomakpa, described Ibori as a gift of God. He compared Ibori to great men of God in the Bible, like Jesus Christ, Moses, Joseph, Samson, Paul, Jonah, among others, who suffered tribulations in the course of their duty to God. Awomakpa said the travails of Ibori stemmed from his service of upliftment and empowerment of humanity. The cleric who prayed for good health and long life for Ibori, also prayed for the growth of Delta state and for the unity on Nigeria.”

    *Bishop’s Sermon at Bode George’s Thanksgiving Service After His Release From Prison:

    “Delivering a sermon entitled, ‘A minister and a witness,’ Ven. Tayo Aduloju said, “If you are involved in any shady deal; if you are found anywhere elections are rigged; and partake in any form of manipulation, it means you have not learnt anything from your experience. Real power belongs to God. It does not belong to PDP. It does not belong to any president.

    “As from today, you are expected to represent Christ. You are an ambassador of Christ. Never again will the name of God be soiled through you.” Aduloju also charged politicians to shun thuggery, rigging and avarice so as to return the country on the path of decency. He said, “Shun thuggery. Shun violence. Shun greed. Shun rigging and whatever that can cause trouble.”

    Note and remember, Bode George was pronounced GUILTY and ultimately cleared by the Supreme Court. Whereas James Ibori pleaded GUILTY.

    Two Thanksgiving Service, Two men of God, Different mindset.

    Mr. James Ibori should tell the world who is his and how he will want to be addressed. You be thief … I no be thief! Fela Anikulapo Kuti captured it all.

    What future are we bequeathing to our children??? Surely, God isn’t a Nigerian.

    • Dambaski

      The irony of it all was that he pleaded guilty to the crime to get reduced jail term. This guy was actually on the run before he was nabbed I UAE. What a shame

      • emna

        My brother I am ashamed. That archbishop should be defellowshipped by CAN period. Baptist church has wounded my pride as a christian

  • Apostel

    He is right, a bastard can’t be a thief, a bastard is a criminal and that includes all his atrocities.

  • Paul Graham

    He’s not a thief, but is a common felon, an ex convict adored by mugu followers!

  • Babso

    God is merciful oh!!!! I lost count of how many times Ibori called God in his speech and all these for …………….

    • CeeCee1818

      Next thing he’ll be running for president.

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  • Omooba A

    This is why some churches in Nigeria should be shut down for aiding and abetting rogues like Ibori. He must have paid enough money to this church for him to be able to proclaim his innocence in the present of his so-called god. What’s is the point of going to jail and proclaiming innocent now? He must be preaching the sermon to some imbecile from his tribe when he said that his jail term in London was due to mistakes and not his ignominious behaviors. What a shameful human being as this is not his first, or second, or third terms in prison. He has been in London jail twice and once in Nigeria jail where his file disappeared. My question to his moronic people is; what is the purpose of of this thanksgiving? Is it for his safely getting out jail or for still having enough money hidden away – the money meant to improve the life of this same people? Only in Nigeria could someone that has lost most, if not all, his humanity rights and dignities to prison terms could have mouth to talk about being wrongly convicted. What a shame?

    • Ndidi

      I read that Delta Governor Okowa took 350 million naira of Delta’s money to fund this “thanksgiving”.

      • CeeCee1818

        I read he was a no show at the function, could it be a sense of shame?

      • Omooba A

        I read the same and like the adage; bird of the same feather…….. The governor was no show; a pretense that he did belongs to the same klepto club but according to the news, he picked the bill for the thanksgiving. I am still wondering what the thanks and giving is all about – we all know that the church is accepting whatever he is giving but what is the ‘thanks’ about?.

  • joelaw

    You are a thief as pronounced by the crown court in u.k period. It is only in Nigeria you can brag-ado. I watched the welcome party on YouTube and saw one moron (senator) saying ‘going to jail means nothing because all great politicians normally go to jail’. He listed Mandela, Obasanjo and a few others as example. This is sad, if a thieve is been compared with Mandela, then Nigeria is definitely in trouble.

  • CeeCee1818

    He must have read the comments on all these forums. Ibori, you sir are indeed a thief! Don’t lie,You’re in God’s house.

    • realist

      God’s house ke, if church is truly the house of God, it would not accommodate ibori to spew out that rubbish. Church is what it is, Jesus said it is written ‘my house will be called a house of prayer’ but you are making it a house of robbers’ -Matthew 21:13.

      • paul irumundomon

        He must have paid that pastor, but what about the church members. If you remember the came of border judge, obj went to church, when border gave his thanks giving in the same church. Nigeria religions, are fake since we created the naira.

  • Pure Reasoning

    I nor be thief, You be thief (apologies to Fela).

  • Wale

    It seems most people in Delta State cannot see anything wrong with what Ibori did it speaks volume about the warped value system in that place. In Delta State what Ibori is acceptable. The constitution should be changed for Delta State to allow Ibori another two terms as Governor more grease to his elbow

    • serubawon70

      Haba you wan kill them?

    • thusspokez

      First create a Urhobo state — since they are the ones supporting him — and make him their governor for life. And let him rape and pillage the state as he chants “the pain and suffering that my people were going through.” to his mumu people’s ecstasy.

  • serubawon70

    The only consolation is that God’s judgement is inescapable

    • paul irumundomon

      In Nigeria, it is excapable, since 1960, do you know anyone, including those who fought for our independence, the has died horrible painful way, there is no one. I looked through all of them, some are even in our currencies. Maybe God has forsaken Nigeria and Nigerians forever.

  • Remi

    Dear Mr Soyemi
    Just like you, I am really infuriated at this whole “peculiar mess”, apologies to Adelabu Adegoke, penkelemesi. I must confess that right from the day that I read that the Director, a whole Director, of SSS – or is it DSS that they now call themselves now – suddenly assumed the position of his (Ibori’s) protocol officer, going to the airport to “welcome him home” and chart the “way forward”; I have been boiling . As a precaution, I have been regularly monitoring my blood pressure at least twice a day, just so that it does not overshoot, due to my anger. Then, again this in-your-face insult to the entire nation, by a man whose whole family and main accomplices are in jail, over charges which in all his “innocence”, he did not as much as lift a finger to defend; is something I just cannot comprehend. It beats me. In pure blasphemy to a God, who I believe must by now be pitying our national folly, may I conclude with the usual Nigerian refrain: “may God save us”.
    Regards.

  • Du Covenant

    This is why being a christian in Nigeria is so shameful if the churches allow such people space to spread rubbish!. Ibori you are a thief because you confessed to being one this is why you were given only 13 yrs in jail considering you crime. Unlike the Nigerian judicial system, the British system does not care how tall and mighty yo are, once you are in its drag net, justice is never served to the highest bidder the way you were acquitted of all charges in a court in Asaba. You should be ashamed of yourself and show remorse but instead you are as arrogant and unrepentant as usual. Frankly, I do not blame you but the people that gave you audience. How I wish our people are more enlightened and more educated, you would have been stoned out of that church. At least not all Nigerians are idiots, some of us can see through you and we know what a devil you are in the name of Ibori. You started stealing and abusing trust very long before ever dreaming of becoming the governor of Delta State, what nonsense are you talking about?.

  • paul irumundomon

    The stories should not have been seperated, that is his biggest mistake. The jail he went to in England, was built for ibori’s church members ant not for theives. But wait a minute, who gave him the microphone, that person is the evil person, inside that house, it is a possibility that house is ogboni house and not a church.

  • Isaac Azor

    Still weeping for my country Nigeria! Thiefs celebrated in churches!! OK, he is not thief but a rougue. I think that settles the matter.

  • Noble

    It is only in Nigeria that a thief celebrates even in CHURCH!!