The Lagos branch of Oghara Development Union (ODU) says the loot forfeited by the associates of James Ibori, former governor of Delta state, is £6.2 million — and not £4.2 million.
Ibori is from Oghara town in Ethiope West LGA of Delta.
On Tuesday, the UK signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian government to return £4.2 million recovered from Ibori and his associates.
But the union, in a statement by Sunday Agbofodoh, its general secretary, said it had followed the case “diligently” and knows that the forfeited sum was £6.2 million.
The union said Nigeria “should oppose UK’s hypocrisy” and insist that the entire sum be returned to the country.
It added that Ibori is innocent of the charges against him and that his forfeited assets were not bought with illicit funds.
“The Oghara Development Union stands squarely with Chief Ibori in maintaining his innocence, and so without conceding that Ibori was guilty as charged, and specifying that the forfeited houses were not bought with illicit funds, we nevertheless call on Nigeria to insist that the full worth of the three buildings seized through a court order, be repatriated to Nigeria,” the union said in the statement.
“Nigeria should also demand the interest on the £6.2 million since 2012 because the money would not have sat idly in the bank without attracting interest.”
IBORI ‘HAD SUBSTANTIAL WEALTH’ BEFORE PUBLIC SERVICE
The union said that all assets linked to Ibori were purchased using funds “lawfully and properly obtained” and some were bought before he became governor.
The statement read: “Ibori’s businesses and the monies that accrued to them were not hidden from the London and Nigerian “persecutors”. The London Police filed in court a paper which showed that one of Ibori’s companies, Mer Engineering, was earning over $7 million annually.
“The forfeited London house linked to the First Lady of Delta state when Ibori was Governor, the Hampstead property, is owned by a family trust. The property was purchased by the company, MER Engineering, which shareholding was held by his family trust.
“The second property belonged to Miss Udoamaka Okoronkwo, and was purchased for £249, 000 through mortgage. Miss Udoamaka is a successful businesswoman as can be seen from the facility letter dated 19 December 2005 from a bank in favour of her company, Sagicon Nig, Ltd for N121 million (£1.5 million).
“The third property, very modest, belonged to Ibori’s sister, a U.K resident, which she purchased for £140, 000. Her husband is a former Federal Permanent Secretary.
“As a court ordered that the buildings be forfeited, however unjustly, all the monies realised MUST return to Nigeria. It is on record that Ibori was a successful businessman before he became a Governor in May 1999, involved in oil logistics and trading. One of his companies, MER Engineering (Nig Ltd), was established in 1992, seven years before he became Governor. He was publisher of a national newspaper called “Diet”, now called “Daily Independent”.
“Also, Ibori had a consultancy job with the Federal Government, with a tripartite agreement between him, the FG and the law firm Washington Christian of USA from which he earned between US$ 3 million to US$ 5 million annually, after successfully reaching the specified goals.
“His bank statements with the Bank of Austria, the Citibank, Barclays Bank and the Meryl Lynch for those years will also show that he had substantial wealth of his own before he held public office for the first time in May 1999.”