Saturday, August 25, 2007

A thief and an ever-tightening noose

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A thief and an ever-tightening noose

Former Governor James Ibori of Delta State has been mentioned in connection with the less than open and transparent sale of the National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria, NAFCON. The controversial purchase estimated to have cost N20.5 Billion (about $153 Million) contributed to the momentary financial hardship for the Government of the new administration.

The purchase of NAFCON was barely a year after the former Delta Governor currently under intense probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes, Commission, EFCC, bought Willbross Engineering for $155 Million. gathered that the purchase of NAFCON believed to have been carried out through a bidding process that was teleguided and predetermined to favor Chief Ibori is one of the privatization sales conducted by the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE now being investigated. Mrs. Irene Chigbue is the Director General of the BPE that conducted the sales.

According sources Chief Ibori acquired NAFCON through an Engineering and Oil Servicing Company named O’Secul Nigeria Limited in 2005. He was said to have enjoyed unchecked control over the resources of Delta State with the unqualified support of his former commissioner for Finance, Mr. David Edevbie, who made sure that his boss had every kobo that would be needed for such acquisitions.

Ibori presently lobbies President Umaru Musa Ya’Adua to appoint Mr. Edevbie, a two term Finance commissioner, to the converted position of Director General of BPE. Our sources hinted that Ibori has two reasons for pushing for the appointment of Edevbie: One, to cover up any possible trace of their past collaborative agenda which made Delta State to bleed in terms of capital loss. Two, so that the BPE could be used to continue to exercise hold on what Ibori questionably had in the past and to possibly acquire more such government “liquidated companies.

Two banks have become very prominent in assisting Ibori to keep looted funds in private accounts in the past. The two banks according to highly placed sources are Access Bank and Oceanic Bank. Ibori has considerable amount of shares in the two banks. And they are both currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial crime Commission, EFCC for acts considered as “economic and financial fraud.”

Ibori’s name has consistently surfaced in several “shady purchases of government and private companies” lately. He was linked with the purchase of Willbross, a Tulsa Oklahoma based company for $155 Million in what has been described as a “mafia approach to doing business.”

A cloud of suspicion hangs over him as he is accused of gun running, providing support for Niger-Delta insurgents. The metropolitan Police are on his trail for money laundering activities. But Sources say that whatever the Metropolitan Police may find on him, may pale into insignificance compared with the possible indictment that could come when the EFCC concludes its investigation of Ibori.

When contacted Sheddy Ozoene, spokesman to Chief Ibori, he said “I don’t have anything to say about that.”

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