There were indications on Tuesday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will go to court to challenge moves to claim for Delta State, the controversial $15m cash said to have been received from an undisclosed agent of a former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori, in 2007.
EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, informed our correspondent that the anti-graft agency would contest the moves to have the $15m returned to the state. The sum, which Ibori allegedly offered the EFCC as bribe to compromise its investigations by the anti-graft agency, has been kept in the strong room of the Central Bank of Nigeria as an unclaimed property since August 2007.
Following an exparte motion by the EFCC, an Abuja Federal High Court on July 25, 2012, granted an interim order forfeiting the $15m to the Federal Government.
Since the court granted the interim order, some stakeholders in Delta State had been arguing that the money should be handed over to the state, which Ibori governed between 1999 and 2007. Some stakeholders in Delta State, including a former Minister of Information and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, called for the return of the money to the state.
A lawyer, Mr. Timipa Okponipere, on July 27, filed a suit before an Abuja Federal High Court, challenging the interim order that forfeited the amount to the Federal Government. The suit is perceived to be moves by Delta State to claim the money. The lawyer told the court that he filed the application “for and on behalf of the Government and people of Delta State.”
However, EFCC counsel, Jacobs, told our correspondent that the anti-graft agency will challenge the moves to claim the money in court, once it is served with notices of a suit to claim the said amount.
The EFCC counsel added that in the event the commission was not served, it would still go to court to move the motion for the final forfeiture of the $15m to the Federal Government.