– Ribadu confesses under oath in a London court
– He sought my help to be Police IG- Ibori
Nigeria’s former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu mentioned during the hearing with regards to the confiscation of assets of former governor of delta state James Ibori, that the former governor might have pleaded guilty to some of the charges against him during his investigation, ‘He is an amiable gentleman who means well’.
Ribadu who was in London to give evidence in the $15m bribery allegation against Ibori gave a glowing account and tributes of the man he was supposed to testify against to the surprise of everybody in the court.
Ribadu speaking about Ibori as if under some kind of unseen influence said ‘James is a gentleman, he is very friendly, very persuasive and cordial with people around him’. He went on to say ‘he is a very influential man…..we both have same friends and meet at almost same places very often. Asked by QC Krolic, Ibori’s counsel, to mention those places they normally meet, Ribadu said ‘ the president’s office, airports, his friends’s places.
Surprised that Ribadu told the court that he and Ibori usually met at Ibori’s friends’ places, QC Krolic said ‘at his (Ibori’s) friends’ places? Ribadu retorted ‘ Yes, Abuja is a very small place, besides these are people in government that I also relate with’.
Ribadu who referred to Ibori by his first name, James, throughout the time of the cross examination, an indication of jolly friendship, told the court further that ‘we were speaking very often, James will call my phone and I will answer him’. Ribadu went on to say that ‘he, (James) used to call me IG (inspector General of Police)….’he would tell me he means well’.
In an affidavit sworn to by James Ibori, he said of Ribadu ‘Mr Ribadu covertly joined in the efforts to nullify the presidential elections of Yar Adua at the tribunal because the president, Musa Yar’Adua, has declined overtures by Mr Ribadu to clinch the coveted job of Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, IG,’ Ibori continued in the affidavit to say ‘Ribadu approached me to speak to the new president to appoint him the IG of police of Nigeria. I promised to help take his message to Mr President. I did subsequently mention Mr Ribadu’s request to President Yar’Adua, but the president turned it down’.
Ribadu’s account of James Ibori under oath sworn to, using the Koran, showed James Onanenefe Ibori as a gentleman, who has same friends as Ribadu, cordial with his friends and who would always help his friends, a trait Ribadu saw which made him to approach Ibori for help to speak with the president to be appointed Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police. Ibori ‘I did subsequently mention Mr Ribadu’s request to the president’.
Ribadu’s account in court while being cross examined, confirmed Ibori’s statement ‘James used to call me IG’.
A visibly shaking Ribadu under cross examination was rescued several times by Judge Pitts who helped him, Ribadu, simplify QC Krolic’s questions when Ribadu kept saying ‘I don’t understand….I don’t understand…. I don’t understand’.
Angered by Ribdau’s evasive style of responding to questions under cross examination, having given different accounts of same incident within the period of the cross examination, especially when he was unable to give the date of the alleged bribery, the people that were present at the time of him being given the bribes and his account of how he lost his brief case containing the notes of his alleged bribery conversation with Ibori, which he first said ‘2007’ and later ‘2008’ and later said ‘everything happened in 2008’ and later said ‘it has been a long time, I may not have an accurate recollection’, QC Krolic asked Ribadu, with mild element of anger in his tone ‘do you understand me at all’ …..’do you understand me at all’ …..do you understand me?
Ribadu with ‘smiles’ depicting frustration replied ‘yes sir….yes sir’
The question is how could Riabdu not have a good recollection of an allegation as serious as a $15m bribe for an all powerful, Ribadu, the EFCC Chairman? How could he not?
James onanefe Ibori may have pleaded guilty to some of the charges against him, he may remain in a UK Prison for another 2 years, but according to Ribadu under cross examination, he said,
QC Krolic: Would you say that Mr Ibori was a potential candidate for presidency in Nigeria?
Ribadu: James told me that if not for this case, he had the potentials to be president.
QC Krolic: Did you believe that?
Ribadu: Not at all.
QC Krolic: Were you a presidential candidate yourself?
QC Krolic: You were not a successful presidential candidate.
Could Ibori’s travails be all about a powerful Ijaw man who has the potentials to become Nigeria’s president or who was too close to the presidency and perceived as a threat by some other powerful individuals? After all, Ribadu himself in several news interviews has always said that ‘James Ibori is not the worst corrupt politician in Nigeria, there are several more corrupt public officials than him who are still moving about in Nigeria as Kings’.
What ever happens, according to QC Krolic, ‘the $15m referred to by Ribadu is back in the coffers of the Nigerian government used to frame Mr Ibori for whatever reason that is best known to them’.
The confiscation hearing continues for another 2 weeks.