The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has heaped praise on former Delta State governor and ex-convict, James Ibori, branding him a respected leader and urging that he be celebrated.
National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, ex-governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and other national and state PDP leaders on Saturday praised “the sterling leadership qualities of former Governor James Ibori, describing him as a unifying figure and a blessing to the Niger Delta region.”
A statement by the press unit of the Delta State Government House said the officials spoke at Ovwor-Olomu in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State during a grand reception in honour of Ibori.
According to the statement, the party leaders described the former governor, who returned to Nigeria on February 5, 2017 after serving jail term in the UK, as a unifying force and influential contributor to the development of Delta State and Niger Delta in general.
Secondus and his colleague, lavished praised on Ibori at the occasion, saying the PDP needed his leadership to dislodge the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from power.
“Ibori must be celebrated because he is a man of the people not just in Delta state but across the nation, today, he is a factor in this country. On behalf of the masses of our country, we salute you, we salute your courage because you are a man who believes in the struggle of the party,” he added.
“You [Delta State] have a son that has built a political structure that is envied across the nation. Delta State remains the only state in the nation that has a stability in political succession. It remains the only state where all the Governor that have ruled the state are still members of the PDP,” he added.
Governor Okowa said Ibori laid the foundation of development in the state and established a political structure which served as a bridge builder and development agent across the country.
He thanked the people of the state for their support and called for greater unity among Deltans, while assuring them of more democratic dividends.
On his part, Uduaghan called for an end to rumour mongering and sycophancy in the state.
Responding, Ibori advised the political class especially those seeking political office not to heat up the polity, saying power belongs to God and that only He can give power.
He said he had forgiven all those who played one role or another in his incarceration.
The chief host of the reception, John Oguma, said Ibori impacted positively on the state.
Oguma described Ibori as a national leader who helped in stabilising the nation’s polity.
Recall that Ibori had on February 27, 2012, pleaded guilty in a London court to 10 counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud. Before Judge Anthony Pitts, Ibori admitted to stealing $250million as alleged by the prosecution.
The Metropolitan Police accused Ibori of spending some of the stolen money buying six houses in London – paying £2.2m in cash for one Hampstead mansion – and putting his children in expensive British private schools.
After he pleaded guilty, Crown Prosecution Service lawyer, Sasha Wass, made a short submission, saying the prosecution was discontinuing Ibori’s trial because the former governor had “accepted the entirety of the prosecution’s case as it has always been set out.”
Ibori was later sentenced to 13 years in UK prison. He was however released and deported to Nigeria in February 2017.
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