From FRANCIS AWOWOLE-BROWNE:
• FG orders probe
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday declared former Delta State governor, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, wanted over a N44 billion fraud and other corruption charges. Ibori had allegedly gone into hiding since March 27 for fear of arrest by the EFCC, while the
anti-graft agency had since March 22 detailed operatives in search of the former Delta governor across cities like Lagos and Abuja.
The EFCC in a statement yesterday signed by Mr. Femi Babafemi explained that the decision to declare Ibori wanted followed persistent public enquiries over the status of the case involving the former governor.
“We will like the public to know that Chief James Ibori is wanted by the commission for interrogation. In this regard, letters of invitation have been sent to his known addresses in Lagos and Abuja while a court warrant has equally been obtained for his arrest,” the statement said.
Apart from weaving 24-hour surveillance around Ibori’s houses on Justice Mohammed Bello Street, Asokoro, Abuja and 21 Idejo Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, the EFCC is also said to have detailed its operatives around major hotels in these two cities in the last three weeks in search of Ibori.
A top source in the agency who confirmed the moves said the commission had, apart from sending letters of invitation to Ibori’s homes in Abuja and Lagos, equally obtained a warrant of arrest from a court as part of efforts to neutralise any perpetual court injunction the former governor may be processing to stall his arrest while his private jet at the Abuja airport is being closely watched by EFCC operatives detailed to keep eagle eyes on it.
According to a source, “Ibori got wind of his imminent arrest about three weeks ago when his security aides must have alerted him about suspected strange movements around his house in Lagos. In fact, one of the EFCC boys on surveillance around his house in Victoria Island, Lagos had a brush with Ibori’s security aides when they mistook him for a miscreant loitering around their area. That incident must have raised his curiousity and since then he has fled into hiding in Delta where he is heavily protected by militants because he moves between his hometown, Oghara and the dangerous creeks of Delta.”
The EFCC Chairman, Mrs Farida Waziri, sources said, must have gone for the option of declaring Ibori wanted when the cat and mouse game seems far from coming to an end after over three weeks of day and night search for him because Ibori would just not swallow all the baits thrown at him to draw him out of his hiding. Ibori had played a prank on the commission last week when he made a camouflage appearance at a wedding in Warri to create an impression that he was moving around freely.
It was gathered that two of Ibori’s associates linked to some of the deals over which he is being wanted have been arrested by the EFCC and are now being detained at the commission’s facility in Abuja.
A source said the decision to declare Ibori wanted was to formally get other security agencies and members of the public involved in the search for him.
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