group known as Warri Beyond Borders has sent a strong message to British Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson over the planned repatriation of funds recovered from associates of James Ibori, a former Governor of Delta State.
The group in a statement jointly signed by Hosanna Jalogho Williams, Hon. (Barr.) Silas Buowe, Hon. Gibson Dick Akporehe and Ft . Lt ( Rtd) Anthony Biakpara, posited that the recovered funds belong to Delta State and should be returned to the State.
The statement reads: “We woke up, recently, to the news that the Federal government of Nigeria and her British counterpart have finally reached and signed an agreement to repatriate some of the recovered funds from the associates of the former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori.
“The good news is that such a huge sum is a big welcome in the prevailing economic circumstances in Nigeria.
“The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the prudent management of the funds, to positively impact on the people of Nigeria and her economy, is desirable.
“However, notwithstanding the position of Delta State Government on the heist now established against the former governor’s aides, which does not anywhere translate to the position of the hugely impoverished people of Delta, back dropped by their reactions in the wake of the allegations and trials, the indubitable fact about the public life of the former governor is that the only public office he held in Nigeria is that of the governor of Delta State.
“That being the unassailable position, whatever and wherever public funds traceable to the former governor as proceeds of sleaze, belong to no other institution, agency or state save Delta State only.
“Hinged on this fact, we are moved to counsel the British government on how the repatriated money should be used by resisting the temptation of allowing herself to be manipulated into making any agreement that shuts out the state and her people from the benefits of what rightly belongs to them, under tenuous grounds.
“It is worth mentioning that theindigenous people of the various kingdoms which make up Delta State entered into separate treaties with the Imperial Government of Britain instruments that placed people of Delta State in a skewed country christened Nigeria, unfortunately, not for the overall good of the people with who these treaties were entered before compromising their respective sovereignties consequent upon economic exigencies.
“Also worth recalling is the fact that the people of Delta State have had to bear the burden of despoliation from crude oil exploration activities of Shell Petroleum Development Company, with no commensurate benefits of fair treatment and without the intervention of the British Government to the cries of exploitation from the impacted people.
“Given this heavy yoke foisted on our people from our past and in recent times, our angst against the British government to again reach a so-called MOU with the federal government of Nigeria instructing that the recovered funds be used for projects outside Delta State to wit, Lagos Kaduna– Ibadan expressway, Kano Express Road , and the second Niger Bridge, cannot be justified under any dominant ethos in any part of the world. Put mildly, this is an act of gross insensitivity.
“Be it noted too that the recovered loots of former Governors Dariye of Plateau state and Alamiesegha of Bayelsa State respectively from United Kingdom were returned to their respective states without recourse to technicalities as lame excuses to deny the people of the two states what was due them.
“Indeed, nothing has changed in the basic laws governing government policies especially in CommonWealth nations. Any convention or instrument that does not stand the test of conscionableness is itself an instrument of fraud. Fraud cloaked in legal instrument cannot cease to be fraud and the United Kingdom must commit this to heart and do what is conscionable rather than relying on spacious conventions on laundered money. This paints a picture of hypocrisy against your people and government.
“Therefore, it is dubious and inappropriate and unacceptable to evoke and apply the principle of law governing lost but found chattel that is not traceable to any owner in dealing with the first expected tranche (4.2 million pounds) of the looted money and the one hundred million pounds also being expected in few months hence.
“Any legal pundit justifying this most callous and insensitive move is not guided by the spirit of the law but interest(s) tucked in vanishing self serving rhetoric and arguments.
“We will, therefore, like to sincerely advise the British government to learn from the experiences of other nations where policies like the one being contemplated birthed in hubris and greed, led to confrontations, bloodshed and calamitous outcomes as the people will surely resist the ceding of their commonwealth to others. Should this be the case, let it be known that the blood of the innocent, which might be shed will be on the conscience of the United Kingdom government forever.
“Need it be said that the United Kingdom which has Imperial vestiges in substantial parts of the globe should be the country to walk the talk in exemplary leadership and advocacy of the highest s love for humanity.
“We assume that the position of your government on the projects that the recovered looted funds should be spent is a function of oversight than mischief and Imperial revisionist values.
“In this respect, we humbly and respectfully invite your esteemed and revered attention to federal government of Nigeria owned projects located in Delta State which the returning loots could be deployed to execute with much more seminal benefits for people of Delta State unjustifiably denied of the value of those funds for so long.
“We the people of Delta State happily bring to your attention the few federal tertiary institutions in our state; the Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun, Petroleum Training Institute Effurun, College of Technical Education, Asaba; Federal University of Maritime Studies, Okerenkoko. Presently they are very poorly equipped to provide quality education for the students admitted.
“Additionally, the long proposed but abandoned coastal road from Koko in Delta State to Lagos the commercial nerve centre of Nigerian, inclusive of the Warri/ Benin Road or the Sapele/Igbanke Road also deserve equal attention.
“Indeed, this is one of those rare occasions where the British Government must demonstrate enviable transparency for others to emulate. The United Kingdom which promotes global, civilized best practices cannot afford to turn her back on the poor helpless people of Delta state through this punishing and unconscionable MOU with the Nigerian government”.