Thewill Exclusive: How Buhari’s Chief Of Staff Brokered Ibori’s Safe Passage Into Nigeria
BEVERLY HILLS, March 22, (THEWILL) – The Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Abba Kyari brokered the deal that enabled returnee former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, enter Nigeria without being detained or prosecuted.
Ibori fled Nigeria after he was declared wanted for graft charges by the EFCC during the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
THEWILL gathered from sources that Kyari, who has had long-term relations with Ibori, lobbied the Director-General of the Department of State Services, DSS, Lawal Daura for the former governor, who just finished serving his 13-year jail term for graft in December last year in the United Kingdom, to be in the clear upon his return. Ibori in a statement this week said his lawyers have appealed his conviction.
Kyari, who is one of the most powerful and influential officials in Buhari's close circle, also coopted the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami into the plot to give Ibori a pass just as the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, pressed the argument in Ibori's favour that it would be wrong to detain and try him again in Nigeria for graft having been convicted and jailed in London for same offence.
The respected Professor of Law and Ibori have also maintained long term relations.
THEWILL further gathered that the negotiations to allow Ibori into Nigeria without harassment were brokered without the knowledge of the President. The timing of Ibori's return was also well perfected to coincide with the President's long absence from the country. Buhari was in London, United Kingdom, from January 19 – March 10, receiving treatment for a yet to be disclosed ailment.
THEWILL recalls that Ibori returned to the country on February 4, about six years after he was arrested in Dubai, UAE, by Interpol operatives and subsequently extradited to the United Kingdom, UK.
In the ensuing trial, a UK court convicted him of corruption and money laundering in 2012 after pleading guilty. He completed his sentence in December and agreed to leave the United Kingdom after he won an appeal against the Home Office, which wanted to continue to detain him until his assets confiscation hearing is concluded in court.
Following his arrival into Abuja, Ibori immediately went to honour a prearranged meeting with Daura at the DSS office at Aso Drive, Abuja accompanied by his cousin and also the immediate past Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.
The secret police boss would later tell the media that he met with the ex-governor for “a short debriefing session and to also welcome him back to his fatherland”.
THEWILL gathered that during the meeting, Ibori was advised to keep a low profile politically in the interim so as not to piss off some powerful interests.