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Urhobo leaders protest Nigerian govt’s plan to spend Ibori’s loot on projects outside Delta

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Abubakar Malami

Leaders of Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU) on Friday stormed the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to protest the Federal Government’s decision to spend the £4.2million recently repatriated to the country by the British government on projects outside Delta State.

The British government had early this month returned the funds recovered from ex-governor of Delta State, James Ibori, to the federal government.

The funds were recovered from the former governor after he was convicted for money laundering and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment by a British court in 2012.

The federal government had promised to spend the money on critical projects including the Lagos-Ibadan Highway, the Second Niger Bridge, and the Abuja-Kano Expressway.

Members of UPU led by the President-General, Joe Omene, in a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and submitted to the Ministry of Justice, urged him to review the list of projects to be executed with the funds.

The leaders, who commended the federal government for ensuring the repatriation of the £4.2million to Nigeria, however, insisted that the funds belonged to the people of Delta State.

They argued that it would amount to double jeopardy for Delta State to lose the funds again to federal projects in other states.

The letter read: “The UPU welcomes the planned return of these funds as a practical demonstration of your government’s tireless resolve to promote accountability and transparency in governance, a value that underpins UPU’s goal of promoting the well-being of its people and all Nigerians.

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“UPU commends this development and appreciate the federal government’s strong concern over returning these funds directly to the state government where the key actors involved are still in control or have considerable influence over the affairs of the state.

“The UPU and the entire people of Delta state are, however, shocked to hear of the federal government plan to use the retrieved funds for the completion of the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and Abuja-kano Expressway.

“While we note that these are very worthy projects, it should, however, be noted that these recovered funds belong to the people of Delta State who were and still the main victims deprived of the benefit of these funds.

“It will, therefore, be a double jeopardy to again lose these funds meant for direct projects in Delta State but initially taken away but now recovered, only to lose these funds again to federal projects in other states.

“The UPU, therefore, kindly appeals to the federal government on behalf of our people to reconsider the expressed intention and use the funds to attend to several abandoned federal projects in Delta state and mitigate the deprivations that the people have already suffered from the protracted toes of the funds.

“This will indeed demonstrate the fairness and justice which informed your governments endeavour to embark upon the retrieval of this fund and therefore should benefit directly the people of Delta State.”

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