L-R: Governor (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; Mr. Ahmed Idris, Accountant-General; and Mr. Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Photo Collage: Peoples Gazatte

Confusion as Delta disproves AGF’s claim, denies receiving £4.2m James Ibori’s loot

*The Chief Press Secretary to Delta State Governor says though the state government appreciates the Federal Government’s efforts at returning the recovered loot to where it rightly belongs, ‘the truth is that the money has not hit the Delta State Government’s account’

*The money is still being awaited, after which the issues around it will be resolved before further action is taken. For now, no money has been returned to Delta State, says Office of Account-General of the Federation

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In what appear like deliberate misinformation and contradictions in the submissions by the offices of the Account-General of the Federation (AGF) and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on the whereabouts of the recovered fund, the Delta State Government of Nigeria has denied receiving £4.2 million earlier looted by Chief James Ibori, a former governor of the state.

ConsumerConnect reports the £4.2 million loot was seized from the associates of convicted former governor of Delta State by the United Kingdom (UK), and recently returned to Nigeria, according to Mr. Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice.

Federal Government’s earlier stance on looted money

Earlier March this year, Mr. Malami while featuring on a Channels Television programme June 30, 2020, had said that James Ibori loot would be used for the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and “not returned” to the Delta State Government where it was pilfered in the first place.

Where is the recovered £4.2 million Ibori loot?

The Minister for Justice had contended that the law that was alleged to have been breached by Ibori was a Federal law, and that the parties of interests involved in the repatriation of the funds were national and not sub-national governments.

He stated: “The major consideration relating to who is entitled to a fraction or perhaps the money in its entirety is a function of law and international diplomacy.”

Account-General’s information to the Senate Committee

Mr. Ahmed Idris, Accountant-General of the Federation, while appearing before the Senate Committee investigating the status of recovered loot Tuesday, May 25, 2021, had declared that the recovered loot had been returned to Delta State.

Idris, before the committee investigating the status of the recovered £4.2million loot, stated that “all recovered funds that belong to the respective states are paid directly to the states.”

Specifically, when the AGF was asked if the Ibori loot was returned to Delta State, he responded, that “it was paid to the state; it was paid to Delta State.

According to Idris, any recovery that is arising from any state goes to that state. State governors will not even allow it to fly; they will take the Federal Government to court. We pay them their money.”

We are yet to receive the £4.2 million money ─Delta State Government

However, Olisa Ifejika, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Delta State Governor, at a media briefing Wednesday, May 26, in the Government House, Asaba, the state capital, disputed the Accountant-General’s earlier claim of crediting the account of the state government with the recovered stolen money.

Ifejika insisted the oil-rich state is yet to receive the £4.2 million money.

The Chief Press Secretary stated: “We appreciate the efforts of the Federal Government to return the recovered loot to Delta State where it rightly belongs.

“But the truth is that the money has not hit the Delta State government’s account.

“We saw it yesterday like every other Nigerian when the Accountant-General of the Federation Ahmed Idris while appearing before the House of Reps committee on recovered loot made that statement, and there was this avalanche of enquires to know whether that money has come to us and the truth is that the money has not come.”

He stressed “we are happy that they have shown willingness to return the money, and we know that very soon, the money will come.”

The Delta State Government will ensure that the funds are judiciously utilised to improve infrastructure across the state, once received, said Ifejika.

It is also noted that the Accountant-General’s response contradicts the earlier position of the Federal government on the recovered loot.

The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation has denied returning £4.2 million loot recovered from former Governor James Ibori to Delta State Government.

Accountant-General’s denial of returning £4.2m loot to Delta State

Meanwhile, in a swift reaction to the Delta State disclosure that it had received no recovered looted fund from the Federal Government, Henshaw Ogubike, Director of Information, Press and Public Relations in the OAGF, in a statement titled, ‘Re: £4.2m Ibori loot: Putting the records straight’, said: “The Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation wishes to put the records straight regarding the widely circulated media report on the £4.2m Ibori Loot.

“The issue of the £4.2m Ibori Loot has not been properly resolved. The money is still being awaited, after which the issues around it will be resolved before further action is taken. For now, no money has been returned to Delta State.

The statement noted: “This explanation is without prejudice to the proceedings at the public hearing that took place yesterday (Tuesday) during which the AGF was only making general comments about recoveries relating to state governments.

“This is the true position as regards the £4.2m Ibori Loot.”

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