The Lagos lawyer says both the Federal and State Governments are wrong for claiming the $15 million dollar bribe money.
Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo, has condemned the Federal Government and the Delta State Government for trying to claim the “Ibori $15 million bribe,” describing the claim as “shameful and disgraceful.”
Mr. Keyamo said this in a statement on Thursday. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has accused Mr. Ibori of sending $15 million bribe through an intermediary, Andy Uba, to its former Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu.
The money was received on behalf of Mr. Ribadu by Ibrahim Lamorde, the current Chairman of the EFCC, and deposited at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“The attempt by the Federal Government to recover the alleged $15million bribe is nothing but a shameful and disgraceful attempt at covering up a crime,” Mr. Keyamo said.
The Lagos lawyer said that by claiming the money when nobody has been convicted over the bribe payment, the Federal Government is “abdicating its statutory responsibility to prosecute criminals, and reneging on its pledge to the people to fight the cancer of corruption to its roots, no matter whose ox is gored.”
Mr. Keyamo said Mr. Ibori’s conviction in the UK does not deter his prosecution for the bribe when he returns to the country. He questioned the way the EFCC and its top officials handled the bribe money.
“Why deposit the proceeds of a crime, which is already an exhibit to be tendered in court, in the Central Bank of Nigeria? Is the CBN a store for exhibits? Does the EFCC not have facilities to keep exhibits?” Mr. Keyamo asked rhetorically.
The lawyer, who also acts as counsel to the EFCC, stated that the bribe courier, Andy Uba (then a presidential adviser and now a Senator), and the self-acclaimed owner of the bribe, Chibuike Achigbu, should have been arrested by the police since they enjoyed no immunity, unlike Mr. Ibori, when the money was presented to the EFCC in 2007.
“What kind of country will want to recover exhibits that are the proceeds of crime, without first arresting the culprits, investigating them, tracing the origin of the money, charging them to court and securing conviction?” Mr. Keyamo asked.
Mr. Keyamo advised both the Federal Government and the Delta State Government to withdraw their claim to the $15 million. He said both parties should await the full trial of Mr. Ibori at the Appeal and Supreme Court by the EFCC.
Mr. Ibori was discharged and acquitted of a 170 count charge by an Asaba Court presided over by Marcel Awokulehin in a controversial ruling. The EFCC has since appealed the ruling at the Court of Appeal.
Mr. Keyamo who called for a thorough investigation of all the parties in the bribery saga said he is an indigene of Delta State, where Mr. Ibori was governor, and would not hesitate to challenge the Federal Government in court if the “Federal Government fails, refuses and/or neglects to take appropriate steps to terminate the case in court and properly investigate all the suspects in this matter.”