Former Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Nuhu Ribadu today appeared before London’s Southwark Crown Court, where he testified in the hearing to confiscate properties stolen by the former governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori.
In his testimony, Ribadu said Ibori tried to bribe him in 2007 with $15 million in cash in a bag so heavy that one man alone could not lift it, he said
Ribadu said he pretended to have accepted the bribe so that he could use the cash as evidence against Ibori in a prosecution, adding that he took the money by straight to the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) where it was kept safe in a vault.
Ribadu told the court that about $1 billion flowed from federal government accounts into Delta State coffers during Ibori’s eight years in power, adding that Ibori must have stolen or wasted more than half of that amount.
Ribadu provided the court with details of how the money was handed over to him.
“In late April 2007, a meeting was arranged between the two men at a “neutral place”, the house of Andy Uba, a close associate of outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo. Ibori arrived at the house with several members of his staff and a very large black sack containing $15 million in cash. Ribadu said he watched as two of Ibori’s men lifted the heavy sack and handed it over to his own EFCC staff. “It was a bag that an individual could not carry alone,” he said.
The EFCC men drove the bag to the central bank where the money was counted and boxed into smaller containers. The court was shown photographs of the boxes of cash. “I have given you money Nuhu, just give me my clearance,” Ribadu quoted Ibori as telling him after those events.
Ribadu said things changed as his men commenced investigation in issues when the late President, Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua succeeded Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. “Ibori was close to Yar’Adua and the new attorney general Michael Aondoakaa who sought to neutralise the EFCC by sacking Ribadu.
Ribadu told the court he survived two separate assassination attempts including one during which three shots were fired at his car. After the second attempt, he fled Nigeria by what he described as the “bush path”, first by motorcycle taxi across the border to Benin, then by an Air France flight to Paris and then to Britain where he was given refuge at an Oxford college. Ribadu said he remained in exile until after the death of Yar’Adua in May 2010. He told the court that under new President Goodluck Jonathan, the climate changed again and he returned home.