Chief James Ibori
Ibori was arrested at about 11.45am at the federal capital city after an alleged attempt to travel out of the country through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, via a chartered aircraft.
Authoritative sources close to the EFCC told Daily Sun that following a tip-off on the alleged bid to flee the country on Wednesday, a team of operatives of the anti-graft agency was stationed at the airport to keep tabs on the movement of the former Delta State chief executive.
It was further gathered that the surveillance paid off when the engine of the chartered aircraft was turned on in preparation for take-off as Ibori drove into the airport to fly out of the country. However, unwilling to be beaten in the game of wits, the EFCC operatives reportedly blocked the aircraft, a move which was said to have forced the vehicle conveying Ibori to make a u-turn and zoom out of the airport.
Although the former governor narrowly escaped being nabbed at the airport, it turned out to be a temporary relief as another team of EFCC operatives reportedly trailed him to the Kwara State governor’s lodge in Abuja, where he was eventually arrested and taken into custody.
As at press time, Osita Nwajah, EFCC’s head of media and publicity, could not be reached for comments on the development, but a senior official of the commission, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed the arrest, saying: “We’ve done it again. We’ve eventually arrested Ibori while he was trying to escape from the country”.
The former Delta State governor is accused of looting state funds for which the Southwark Crown Court, in London, recently ordered the freezing of his assets in the United Kingdom estimated to be worth $35million. The assets include cash, real estate and a newly acquired aircraft still with the manufacturers in Canada , whose cost is put at about $20million.
Like Ibori, his 39-year-old wife, Nkoyo, was also arrested early last month at the Heathrow Airport by the Metropolitan Police in London while attempting to board a Virgin Atlantic flight for Lagos.
The ex-Delta First Lady, who holds a dual citizenship of Nigeria and Britain , was arrested in connection with ongoing enquiries into money laundering allegations against her husband.
Meanwhile, the Kwara State govrnment has stated its connection with Ibori’s arrest. In a statement signed by Billy Adedamola, special adviser, media, to the Kware State governor, the state said the former Delta State governor came to visit Governor Bukola Saraki when he was arrested.
“On Wednesday, 12 December, 2007 at about 9.30 am, the former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori arrived at the Kwara State governor’s lodge in Abuja on courtesy call on the Kwara State Governor, Dr Bukola Saraki.
“Chief Ibori arrived just as Governor Saraki was about leaving for the airport to catch a flight to Ilorin to preside over the State Executive Council meeting, which was billed for 11am.
“Upon his arrival at the Kwara lodge, Chief Ibori was accosted by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) led by one Danjuma. The EFCC officials apparently trailed Chief Ibori to the lodge.
“The leader of the EFCC team identified himself to Ibori and stated their mission. Promptly, Ibori offered to follow them to their office. There was no fuss and no gestures of resistance of arrest whatsoever from Chief Ibori. He, in fact, drove in his own private car to the EFCC office.
“Given the conflicting reports trailing his arrest,we want to state categorically that Chief Ibori never resided in Kwara lodge as being insinuated in some quarters.”