Asaba Court: I Can't Stop Your Arrest, Judge Tells Ibori

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San Francisco, June 28, (THEWILL) - There is no end in sight to the mounting woes of fugitive former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori as the Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, on Monday June 28, threw out his application for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights for lack of merit. Ibori had filed the action following attempts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to arrest him for allegedly diverting the state's shares in Oceanic Bank to guarantee a loan granted Ascot Nigeria Limited by Intercontinental Bank. EFCC declared the ex-governor wanted for failing to respond to its invitation to appear before it.

At this morning’s ruling, Justice Ibrahim Buba held that the court lacks the power to stop a statutory body from arresting anybody in connection with a criminal act. He said the court's intervention would only be necessary where such a body acted ultra vires. He said the EFCC has not violated any law by inviting the former governor to appear before it.

Justice Buba equally faulted one of the premises of the Ibori application for a preventive order; that he was being haunted by the anti graft agency over matters which had already been resolved by the court when it quashed the 170 -count charge of money laundering preferred against the former governor by the EFCC. He noted that the application before him didn't disclose any charge by the EFCC, and that it would amount to a waste of time to pontificate on a matter that is not before the court. "Until a baby is born, you cannot tell whether the child would be a boy or a girl", he stated.

The Judge however agreed with Ibori's counsel, J. B. Daudu, that it has jurisdiction to entertain the application. Counsel to EFCC, Chile Okoroma had argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the application as Ibori was invited to appear before the anti graft agency in Abuja, while the invitation letter was delivered to him in Lagos. He argued that the action by the applicant ought to have been filed either in Lagos or Abuja.

The failure of the application is the latest in a series of legal and political loses by Ibori who is currently being detained in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he sought refuge after fleeing Nigeria to escape arrest by the EFCC. The former governor is awaiting extradition to Nigeria or the United Kingdom, where his sister, Christie Ibori-Ibie and associate, Udoamaka Okoronkwo Onuigbo are serving a five year jail term each, having been convicted by a Southwark Crown court for money laundering.