The latest in the long running saga of former Delta State Governor James Ibori is that he has been arrested in Dubai. It will be recalled that Ibori has been wanted for some time on allegations that he is wanted for massive corruption. He was arrested by the EFCC in 2007 in an incident that caused the head of the EFCC Nuhu Ribadu to be removed, then dismissed from the police force. After Ribadu’s removal the charges against the well connected Ibori suddenly went cold and he was released and not tried. Ribadu was hounded out of the country and fled in fear of his safety.
Ibori was a close associate (and alleged financier) of former President Yar’Adua. He was thought untouchable due to his closeness to the President. Now that Yar’Adua has died, Ibori is suddenly vulnerable. The new President Goodluck Jonathan has been reshuffling the cabinet and sidelining Yar’Adua loyalists like the former Attorney-General Michael Aondoakaa whose intervention saved Ibori from prosecution and trial many times. A few weeks ago, the police was ordered to find and arrest Ibori. Ibori suddenly absconded from the country, but has finally been found and arrested.
The real test now is whether Ibori will actually be prosecuted. He has been arrested and taken to court before but has almost managed to evade conviction on legal technicalities, fleeing the jurisdiction, or even having the Attorney-General write letters on his behalf to the police in order to stall his prosecution.
This is the latest saga in a long power play involving Ibori, the EFCC and Ribadu. The new President is cozying up to Ribadu and is trying to bring him back. Clearly Nigeria is not big enough for both Ribadu and Ibori.