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Buhari has no justification to deny Delta Ibori loot – Falana


Femi Falana, Delta State Ibori loot Buhari

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has insisted that Delta State Government owns the right to the billions recovered from its former Governor, James Ibori.

This was revealed in a statement released by the senior advocate titled, ‘How FG Frustrated Ibori’s Trial in the UK’.

Falana wondered why the Federal Government would claim ownership of the over £4.2m (N2.2bn) being repatriated.

According to him, it is inappropriate to veto Delta State just because the state government once said Ibori never stole.

He stated that Buhari himself had once claimed that former military Head of State, late General Sanni Abacha, never looted Nigeria but his administration has recovered loot without questions about where the money should go to.

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He also noted that the Federal Government through the Attorney-General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa, also challenged the investigation of Ibori in the United Kingdom in 2009.

Falana said, “No doubt, the former Delta State Government was irresponsible to have denied that Chief Ibori looted the treasury of the state at the material time. But such denial cannot be a justification for the confiscation of the Ibori loot of over £100m that is expected to be repatriated to Nigeria by the British Government.

“After all, before his assumption of office as President in May 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari had repeatedly maintained that the late General Sani Abacha did not steal a dime from the account of the Federal Government.

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“But the Federal Government, under the President’s watch, has continued to recover the remaining Abacha loot and no one has suggested that such recovered loot be paid to the account of  the United Nations or African Union on moral grounds.”

Commenting further on Buhari government’s challenge of Ibori’s probe in the UK, Falana deemed the move by Aondoakaa an insult to Nigeria’s sovereignty.

He said, “It is on record that the Federal Government openly opposed the trial of Chief Ibori in the United Kingdom. In fact, in utter breach of the provisions of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, the then Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) rejected the request to make relevant documents available for the trial in the UK on the grounds of sovereignty.

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“In particular, Chief Aondoakaa refused to entertain the request of the UK Metropolitan Police and made under bilateral mutual assistance to Nigeria on the grounds that the request was not made by the Home Office.” [The Punch]