I lost investigation notes on Ibori – Ribadu
Ex-Governor: I leave you to your conscience Former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu, Friday told a London court that his personal notes on ex-governor James Ibori's $15 million bribe got lost during the period he was being 'persecuted by the government after being removed as the chairman of EFCC.'
He was responding cross examinations by Ibori's lawyers, who tried to punch whole on the solid evidence against their client in continuation of the confiscation hearing of Ibori's assets at the London court. While being crossed examined by Ibori’s lead counsel, Ivan Krolic, the following took place: Ibori’s counsel: Do you always take notes in the course of your work or investigation?
Ribadu: As a trained officer, you are supposed to take notes Ibori’s Counsel: Did you take notes on Ibori in the course of your several conversations with him over the offer of $15m bribe? Ribadu: I did, but lost them during my crisis in Nigeria. When asked if there was any connection with James Ibori and Mike Okiro, Ribadu said: 'I was there when James Ibori nominated Mike Okiro to be IGP.
Ibori’s counsel: Did you not keep them in EFCC Office? Ribadu: No, I am the chairman; it’s not my job to keep files.
Lead counsel: Ok, when you lost your personal notes that contained your conversation with Mr Ibori, who did you report to? Ribadu: I lost a complete brief case containing documents
Lead counsel: where? Ribadu: in Jos while I was in School
Ibori’s counsel: so who did you report to? Ribadu: I reported to my school.
Apparently, Ribadu was telling the court that as the chairman of the EFCC, there was no where in EFCC’s office where a file was opened officially to document evidence of the $15m bribe against Ibori prior to the offer of the bribe. Ribadu as a senior policeman also failed to report the loss of his brief case and vital documents to the police. Ribadu in the course of being cross examined by Ibori’s lead counsel had said he lost his brief case containing some documents including his personal notes on Ibori while in school in 2008.
In re-examination on the same day by Sasha Wass, the crown prosecutor, Ribadu claimed he lost his brief case in July 2007. Mr Krolic, Ibori’s counsel, had to remind him that he had said while being crossed examined in the morning that he lost his brief case in 2007. Responding, Ribadu said ‘Everything happened in 2008′
The court room looked very charged as Ribadu kept changing his stories and became inconsistent under cross examination. Determined to prove that Ribadu was lying under oath, Krolic pressed him further
Ibori’s counsel: is it right to say that you should have ensured that your conversation with Ibori over his offer of $15m bribe to you should have been kept in an EFCC file? Ribadu: of course but in the file of the individual investigating officers
Ibori’s counsel: are these individual files not central in EFCC? Ribadu: individual files of the officers involved.
Ribadu had also said during cross examination that the $15m bribe was brought into the room at Andy Uba’s place by Ibori’s driver and assistant, however, in a prosecution witness statement by Ibraheem Lamorde, one of Ribadu’s officers invloved in the case then, Lamorde had said that the money was brought and put in the car by Andy Uba and his domestic staff. Krolic trying to make Ribadu clarify the conflicting statements between him and his officer asked him 'you said yesterday that it was Ibori’s staff that handed the bag containing the money to you.'
Ribadu answered 'Yes' Ibori’s counsel pressed further, 'Mr Lamorde in his witness statement said it was Uba and his domestic staff who put the money in the car'. Ribadu replied: 'I did not sign this statement, you need to ask Lamorde.' Krolic informed the judge at that point that when the prosecution informed the defence counsel that they were inviting Ribadu, the defence counsel, also requested that Ibraheem Lamorde and James Garba be invited but were later told by the prosecution that the two could not obtain their visa to the UK.
Meanwhile, James Ibori’s lawyer, Jonathan Epelle, while reacting to Ribadu’s contradictory statements under oath in the courts said 'Mr Ribadu could produce no investigation file and no evidence to support his claim in a case as serious as a $15m bribe allegation. He ended up disagreeing with his ex-colleagues, Ibraheem Lamorde and James Garba on even the most basic issue.'
Ibori who spoke from the prison to his lawyers after the hearing stated 'Ribadu could not even recall the date of the alleged bribe, how many bags it was contained, whether or not he saw the money or even who was present. Ribadu is a serial liar, who lied consistently and not able to sustain his lies.' Ibori said that he was leaving Ribadu to his conscience and God since he swore on the Koran.
The defence, when asked by the court to state its position on the $15 million bribe money, expressed surprise, as they believed their position had been made known during the course of questioning.
Q.C Krolic then said: 'Mr. Ibori did not offer or give any bribe money of $15million neither was he there at Andy Uba's residence during the alleged handing over of bribe money'.
He then put it to the court that whilst he does not dispute the fact that $15 million exchanged hands between Ibrahim Larmode, James Garba and Andy Uba, and further deposited to the Central bank of Nigeria, that the money was from the then Federal Government of Nigeria in an attempt to frame Mr. Ibori.
In Abuja Justice Kolawole had initially promised to deliver judgment friday on the abandoned $15 million but suddenly deferred it. The EFCC is seeking an order to forfeit the money to the Federal Government. The court will now deliver the judgment at a date to be '’communicated to the parties.'