The British Government’s announcement during the week to return to Nigerian government £4.2 million recovered from former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, has stirred up argument between the Federal Government and the Delta State government.
The government disclosed during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the UK and Nigeria government that the money would be deployed to complete the second Niger bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan and the Abuja-Kano expressway projects.
However, Delta State information commissioner, Charles Aniagwu described the Federal Government plan as the height of wickedness. ‘’The money belongs to Delta State. We would have understood if the Federal Government had said it wants to receive 20 per cent, but to take all the money is wrong.”
The state government’s position is backed by presidential advisory committee against corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay. “The money is Delta State money and must be returned to Delta State. Federal Government cannot appropriate it for any reason whatsoever. Delta State should officially demand it, failing which the court can be activated for a judicial pronouncement in that regard.”
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms. Catriona Laing announced the fund repatriation, stating ‘’this was the first tranche of such a planned refund’’.
The High Commissioner added that all things being equal the £4.2 million would be made available to Nigeria “in the next couple of days”.
James Ibori was Governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007. He was convicted sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2012 having pleaded guilty to fraud of nearly £50 million, though prosecutors believed the actual amount stolen was about £250 million.
He was released in 2016 after serving a fraction of his term.