DID IBORI HAVE ADVOCATE WHILE HE WAS AWAY?

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Chief James Ibori

I draw inspiration of the above subject matter from the short remarks made by Barrister Ben Oji, who at the valedictory Court session in honor of his late colleague, rhetorically asked - who shall speak for Warri again? In the same vein, who among the Urhobo elites and political class that spoke in favour for Ibori all these years of incarceration? Is it now that people could afford to flock around him to celebrate his freedom? Is it now that pages of newspapers should be painted in bold headlines eulogizing sterling qualities of Ibori to create attention and recognition? Is it about now that contract awarded and abandon should be reviewed for execution? Where are these men when he was being tried in the media? Did we know that Ibori was arrested, tried and jailed in the media before his eventual illegal conviction? Why can these associates of his, challenge British government hegemony of making Nigerians second citizens in their own country?

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James Ibori
 Like a lamb to the slaughter, and a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so Ibori opens not his mouth in spite of terrifying ordeal and pain associated with lies of such height. Often, if one could not speak out possibly for surprise, there are people who could speak for the innocence of Ibori had a huge retinue of friends, close relations, kinsmen and acquaintances all have deserted him. Not even one Urhobo man could boldly come out to intercede for and had a confrontation with the British authority for the concocted evil lies against Ibori. One among many things that makes this world evil is that “All fishes eat human flesh; the shark alone bears a bad name”. After all, there are people out there who did worst than Ibori, yet not incarcerated and subjected to this kind of inhuman treatment meted out for Ibori, his only sister, wife and mistress.

We could not have forgotten so quick that in 1984, Dr.Umaro Dikko, (now diseased) a minister of transportation under Shehu Shagari’s administration, was allegedly accused of stealing $625m. The war against corrupt officials was as high then as now.  Dikko and his corrupt politicians who could not withstand government hunt for corrupt politicians went on self exile to Britain.

At the discovery about their hiding place in London, the government of Nigeria then  filed a formal extradition request for Dikko and his co-corrupt Nigerian friends to be tried in Nigeria, but the British government refused, neither was he tried by the British Government for money laundry. What a paradox of life! That Dikko could not be tried in Britain.  If what is good for the gender is not good for the goose as well, then there is an aberration in the case of Ibori.

 If Urhobo still remains ovo- o –ovo we must remain committed to fight this battle the absence of Ibori in much measure has left a big gorge in the political landscape of Delta state, fight the recent suit filed against British government by Chief James Ibori on police alleged compromised with then Nigeria government that called for Ibori head life or dead. Of his weird and wonderful influence that brought much socio- political development to Delta state is now begin to be felt on the people of Delta state. Impact of his absence is mostly administration of Dr Jonathan Goodluck that denies the Urhobos, whose interest Chief Ibori hitherto seek to protect  their ministerial slot. With other many diversion of Federal presence to the people, the Urhobos could no longer have voice loud enough to be heard on State issues, while Ibori was away. Let alone at the national level.

While Chief James Onanefe Ibori was the governor of the Delta State, his Medias hands were responsible for uplifted of many Urhobo sons and daughters to limelight of recognition for ministerial appointment and other juicy positions at the federal level. His noble ambition has been to   free the Urhobo people and the entire Niger Delta from their beggarly position.

Hence In 2003, he charted course of resource control; where he agitated for13% derivatives for oil producing areas. This singular agitation almost rendered him hors de combat in 2003 election.

 Ibori is contemporary lone man that stand as pillar the Urhobo nation cohesively. His extradition to London to serve a jail term of four and half years in a London prison, counting out numbers of many months of ordeal and torment he suffered in the hands of EFCC and court cases in Nigeria. The hardship of prison is borne alone by him with grit as there is no one to speak for him. What a world!

He was accused of money laundry and other financial offences punishable under Nigerian constitution. Let the records be set straight before the people whose evil hands were responsible for Ibori ordeal, that before chief Ibori came out to contest for Delta state governor, he was already an influential man. With all our eyes open, the same law that governed those punishable offences, for which the Iboris was sentenced to jail in a foreign country, had also caught many Nigerians both in the past and in recent times red-handed. Yet these Alibabas were allowed to walk on Nigerian street untouched. Why Ibori case novel!

But Nigerian government claimed to abhor corruption must stand upright and be bold to spell same punishment on those that have been alleged of corruption and financial misappropriations both in past and present administration. The manner to which the issue of Ibori corruption saga was amplified in line with the bad name associated with it, made it look very surprisingly as if Ibori’s case is novel.

The situation surrounding Ibori case could force someone to ask, if Ibori were from the major ethnic nationalities, would he have been made a scape-goat over Nigerian endemic corruption and disparagingly nicknamed “thief” by a British judge? I feel more sober when ibori’s kinsmen even join voice to call him names and asked the Ibori to be in oblivion. But thank God my brother (Ibori) came back even stronger, standing tall in the policy of things.

Let us be sobered and accept the truth that all fishes eat human flesh, why only the shark must bear a bad name Ibori incarceration in London should be considered as a pure case of Gorge Orwell, “Animal farm”.

Chief Ibori was born in an unknown Otefe village of Oghara, without a silver spoon, yet he rose to whether the storm of life and won the governorship seat of Delta State in 1999. He had no godfathers on whose tutelage he practice craftsmanship of good governance. No wonder the Holy Book says that when the ‘righteous rule the people rejoice.’ Unarguably, the few years of existence of democracy in Nigeria, Chief James Onanefe Ibori’s administration from 1999-2007 in the areas of infrastructural development has been adjudged the best among his contemporary governors in Nigeria even till today. As a good truce broker, Ibori was able to put a definite end to a prolonged Urhobo-Itsekiri; Itsekiri-Ijaw crisis, which almost gulped the entire state on inferno and would have brought about cannibalism.

He made himself a unifying factor. Today, savoring of peace, security of life and property with harmonious co-existence among the ethnic groups in Delta state must be credited to Chief Ibori’s swift response and efforts. His recent Chieftancy titles by well respected traditional rulers after years of vacation are a pointer that Ibori has legacies cannot be forgotten in hurry.

Sail on with your good works Sir, as my hope rekindled that better things is on the pipeline geared towards developing our people and the Country at large.

Kparobo Ehvwubare is a journalist, Online Publisher and Media Consultant writes from Oghara-Delta State. Could be reach on marksbare@gmail.com or 07067546856.




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