Governor Uduaghan of Ibori’s Delta State
The Delta State Government on Tuesday maintained that it had no official reaction to the jail term handed down to former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, by a London Court.
The government insisted that Ibori remained a private citizen till he was sentenced by the court, noting that it would be inappropriate for the state government to take a position on a “purely private’’ matter.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Chike Ogeah, told our correspondent in Asaba that it was not the job of the government to take a stand on such issues.
“He (Ibori) is a private citizen. Delta state government cannot have an official position on a purely private matter,” Ogeah said.
But the Ijaw National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, in his reaction described the conviction of Ibori as well deserved.
The octogenarian said Ibori’s sentencing vindicated his position that the ex-governor was a thief who used his position as governor to enrich himself.
He said, “We have been vindicated at last because most Deltans misunderstood us when we started the fight. Even the people believed that we manipulated his arrest, but my joy is that he pleaded guilty to the charges of corruption and money laundering; it is nemesis that caught up with him.
“It is very sad that someone who was governor of Delta State is being convicted in far away London. It is something we are receiving with mixed feelings because he has dented the image of our state; he has dented the image of the judiciary and he has dented the image of the Attorney- General of this country.”
Former Minister of State for Education, Chief Kenneth Gbagi, described the conviction of Ibori as unfortunate.
He said, “The sentence will serve as a big lesson to others. Whatever it is, it will make the society purer and better.”
Also, the Save Nigeria Group and the Civil Liberties Organisation on Tuesday blamed the escape of Ibori from justice in Nigeria on the nation’s judiciary.
Similarly, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders said corruption had continued to thrive in Nigeria because the nation’s criminal justice system seemed to give corrupt leaders a pat on the back.
Speaking with NAN, the SNG spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin, lamented that Ibori, who was given a clean bill on corruption by a Nigerian Court, had been convicted for similar offences abroad.
“We cannot continue to run a country where the rich get away with crimes against humanity.
“This is an opportunity for the judiciary to re-check itself and mend its broken walls” Odumakin said.
In his reaction, the Lagos State Chairman of the CLO, Mr Ehi Omokhuale, told NAN that “Iboris’s conviction is a big slap on Nigeria’s image and its justice system.
“There are so many Ibori’s running free in Nigeria and their freedom is a threat to our democracy.
“For the crime of impoverishing his people, Ibori deserved a life sentence or death, rather than a mere 13 years,” the CLO Chairman said.
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