- Category: SPECIAL REPORTS
- Sunday, 26 August 2012
- By The Nation
DELTA State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has restated the determination of his government to pursue the recovery of all funds which courts in Nigeria, United Kingdom and United States have seized from his predecessor, James Ibori and his associates. Speaking exclusively to The Nation on Sunday, Uduaghan said: “We
are going to go for any money that was collected as alleged money gotten from the government of Delta State by anybody – not just from Chief Ibori, but the wife, sister and mistress. Any money that has been taken by anybody from the funds of Delta State … we are going to look for them because at the end of the day – legally – its money belonging to the state.
“We have the case of Plateau State and Bayela; so if the British government has collected money on behalf of the Delta State government, we will thank them and then ask for our money.”
The state is already in court seeking an order directing the Federal Government to return to it $15 million cash purportedly offered as a bribe by Ibori in 2007 to the then Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to compromise the probe of a fraud allegation against him (Ibori). The money has been kept in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since 2007 after Ibori denied the bribery allegation.
The application dated August 10 was filed by Charles Ajuyah (SAN), the Delta State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. In it the state claims that the money in question was offered by Ibori to the EFCC boss whilst in office as governor.
The Federal Government had on July 24, 2012 obtained an interim order directing that the money be forfeited to it pending the time anyone who laying bonafide claim could prove legitimate ownership before the court.
Uduaghan also shed light on the on-going disagreements between Northern and Southern state governors over proposals to introduce state police into the constitution. He says the division is not as fierce as being portrayed.
“|I think that some of my colleagues are worried about how they will finance the state police. If you look at the arguments, they are saying give the governors more control; let the Commissioner of Police come from my state, let most of those being recruited into the police come from my state – which is almost like state police.
“The difference is that the federal government will fund it. All of us agree in principle that something has to be done about the police. All of us agree that the governors have to take more control of the police than they are doing now,” he said.
He equally dismissed as baseless statements by some prominent Northern politicians and governors claiming that Niger-Delta state were cornering a disproportionate share of the nation’s finances.
He said: “I don’t think they can withstand that debate. I quite sympathise with the situation, but even those Niger Delta states they are talking about, they don’t think of the environmental damage and the difficulties in the terrain. The cost of constructing a kilometer of road in some of those places can construct 12 kilometers of road in some other places.
“If you are going to compare by what ministries are doing, then there are so many federal ministries doing nothing in Delta State. There is no federal road being constructed in Delta. None – not one kilometer! And they are constructing roads… So if you want to start counting on that basis, you will count and count. There are so many ministries that are not present in Delta State. I am the one that funds most of the federal agencies in Delta State.”
On the security situation in the state, evidenced by high-profile kidnappings in recent times, the governor explained that while there were several factors responsible, a political dimension had been introduced by those responsible for the snatchings.
Uduaghan whose uncle was recently seized by kidnappers, says: “It has become something political to embarrass government. If you notice, virtually every top government official has had one person or the other kidnapped in recent times: the Secretary to the State Government, the Speaker – virtually everybody. Now it is targeting government officials – which I think is more of a political issue.”