Former Delta State Governor James Ibori speaking at a thanksgiving service in his honour held on Sunday at the First Baptist Church, Oghara, Delta State said he is not a thief.
The thanksgiving service was attended by prominent son of Delta State including former Delta State Governor Dr.Emmanuel Uduaghan, former Police Affairs Minister and his wife, Alaowie and Mrs Broderick Bozimo, Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, Mr Ovuozourie Macaulay, Chief Solomon Fukekeme, Senator Patrick Osakwe and Mr Festus Ovie Agas.
Chief Ibori who recently returned to Nigeria after serving a jail term in London for money laundering said his biggest concern he had while serving a jail sentence in the UK was how his people were coping in his absence.
Speaking in Ibori said: “I am not a thief and cannot be a thief”.
Many traditional rulers across the state are also present, including the Ovie of Oghara, Ovie of Ughelli, Ovie of Evwren.
James Onanefe Ibori was born on Monday, August 4, 1958, and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Benin.
He worked at Mobil, then NNPC, and was a pioneer staff in the marketing department of the Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company, before moving to London.
In London, Ibori was a cashier for Wickes DIY, but was arrested for theft and fined £300. The following year, he was convicted for handling a stolen credit card and fined £100.
Between 1994 and 1997, Ibori served in the Abacha regime as a consultant on public policy, and was instrumental in formulating drug policy which brought Decree 3 of 1995 into effect.
He joined the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM) as part of Abacha’s transition to civil rule. After Abacha’s death, the Delta National Congress was formed, which later formed part of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In 1999, Ibori was elected Governor of Delta State and reelected in 2003. In his 8 years in office, Ibori was a powerful voice in the push for resource control in the Niger Delta.
He was the major force behind the emergence of Umaru Yar’Adua as Presidential candidate of the PDP in 2006, and was heavily involved in stopping the Vice Presidential ambition of Peter Odili, then Rivers State governor, in favour of Goodluck Jonathan at the last possible minute.
Ibori’s political troubles began when he was arrested by the EFCC in Abuja and brought up on charges of theft of public funds, abuse of office and money laundering. Nuhu Ribadu, then EFCC chairman also handed over the sum of 15 million dollars, being the amount Ibori tried to bribe him with.
Ibori escaped arrest by seeking refuge in his hometown of Oghara, Delta state, and fled Nigeria a few days later.
The Federal Government sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies in his capture, and he was arrested in May 2010 in Dubai, and was later extradited to the UK to face trial.
On 27 February 2012, accused of stealing US$250 million from the Nigerian public purse and on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, Ibori was sentenced to 13 years by Southwark Crown Court for money laundering.