Former Delta State governor and convicted fraudster, James Ibori, may be stowed away behind bars in the UK, but in Nigeria a $15 million tug-of-war is raging between the Federal Government and the Delta State Government as both sides duke it out for the rights to the Ibori’s ill-gotten loot.
However, on Wednesday, a third party was introduced into the fray when a third party, claimant Chibuike Achigbu, told an Abuja Federal Court that he too had rights to the money.
Defended by a team of senior advocates, Achigbu told the court that he, alongside other unnamed businessmen, had pulled the amount together to fund PDP campaigns in 2007. He said he had handed the $15 million in cash to Andy Uba, a current serving senator and former aide for ex President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Achigbu disowns any relationship with the convicted money launderer, Ibori, but says the $15m was a showing of good faith and in keeping with campaign guides, a simple gift to the PDP.
The businessman, who says he has substantial investments in the oil and gas sector, explained the the EFCC received the money from Uba and said neither the FG or the Delta state government had any claims on the money.
Achigbu threw his hat into the ring at the courtroom joining the battle for Ibori’s loot. He is representing by by a high profile legal team consisting of three Senior Advocates of Nigeria – Adeniyi Akintola, Okey Amaechi, and A. J. Owonikoko.
In an affidavit in support of the motion for joinder, the deponent, one David Alao, a Litigation Assistant in the law firm of Messrs Synergy Attorneys, narrated the grounds on which Achigbu is claiming the cash.
He said Achigbu and his associates had decided on sponsoring the PDP with a round figure of N3 billion after accumulating the funds, the group had approached Uba to invite the EFCC to “investigate and certify that the funds were accumulated honestly and in good g faith” before it could be donated to the PDP.
The Vanguard reported that the funds were sent to the EFCC and Achigbu believes that it is the same amount presented to the EFCC as an alleged bribe from Ibori. He says the disappearance of the money estranged his relationship with Uba.
The pair lost touch when Uba went on to become the governor of Anambra state, a position that was stripped from him by the Supreme Court. He said: “It was not until several months after Uba’s election was voided at the Supreme Court that I succeeded in making contact with him.”
They first made contact after a long while on 27 August 2012.
The deponent told the court that when “Achigbu and Uba spoke for the first time in a long while on August 27, 2012, when Uba called to inform him of the re-appearance of the missing money in the form of the alleged $15m being claimed by the Federal Government”.