The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday made its final submission in the battle for ownership of the $15 million Ibori bribe by contending that Delta Sate government cannot claim a money it never accepted existed.
Delta State government had approached the Federal High Court,Abuja asking that the money, with which former governor JamesIbori tried to bribe former EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu, be given back to the state.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, said at the resumed hearing of the case, that the Delta State government’s claim to the bribe lacked merit as it had in 2007 instituted an action against the commission and the attorney general of the federation stating thatIbori should not be investigated and that the state had lost no money from its treasury.
“My Lord, it is too late for the Delta State Attorney General to lay claim to this money because of his action where he instituted a case against the Commission saying the governor should not be investigate,” the EFCC counsel said.
He added that paragraph 10 of the affidavit deposed in the said case by the Delta State attorney general, stated that the state accountant general, after a thorough investigation, had concluded that no money was lost and that they have no complaint of any missing money.
Jacobs urged the court to dismiss the claim by the Delta State government to the $15 million and order the final forfeiture of the sum to the federal government, in line with provisions of section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
He averred that since the commission had clearly maintained that the money was given as a bribe, and owing to the fact that no one had proven ownership, Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences has given the court power to order the final forfeiture of the money to the federal government.
Justice Gabrael Kolawole fixed September 20, when he will deliver judgment on the ownership of the bribe money.
The $15million was allegedly given by James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State to the Commission as bribe to stave-off arrest by former chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu.
Ribadu cried foul of the move and lodged the money at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
After about five years, the EFCC in July 2012 approached the court through an ex-parte application, requesting for an order forfeiting the Ibori bribe to the Federal Government as unclaimed proceed of crime.
Following the application, the court on July 24, 2012, ordered theEFCC to publish an interim order of forfeiture in a national newspaper (Thisday Newspaper), alerting any one with claim to the said money to state such claims within 14 days.
Three parties, including the Delta state government indicated interest.
While the others have since abandoned their claim to the Iboribribe, the Delta State government has maintained its claim of ownership.