£4.2m Ibori loot: Urhobo group takes protest to Malami’s office

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The agitation against spending the entire £4.2m Ibori loot on projects to the exclusion of the ones in Delta State took a new twist yesterday as leaders of Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU) led a protest to the office of the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, in Abuja.

The money, it would be recalled, is the product of the trial of the former governor of the state, Mr. James Ibori in London where was convicted for money laundering and other related financial crimes.

Leader of the protest and president general of UPU, Mr. Joe Omene, submitted a letter at the registry of the federal ministry of justice.

UPU, in the letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, appreciated the federal government’s concern over returning the money directly to the state government where the key actors involved are still in control or have considerable influence over the affairs of the state.

However, the organisation said the entire people of Delta State “are shocked to hear of the federal government plan to use the retrieved funds for the completion of the second Niger Bridge, Lagos-lbadan Expressway and Abuja-Kano Expressway.”

It therefore urged the government to use the recovered funds to attend to several abandoned federal projects in Delta State.

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-lbadan Expressway and Abuja-Kano Expressway.”

It added: “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 loose these funds meant for direct projects in Delta state but initially taken away but now recovered, only to loose these funds again to federal projects in other states,” (Sic).

Entitled, ‘Commendation for retrieval of delta state’s stolen funds and request for review of projects to be executed with the retrieved funds’ the letter reads: “Your Excellency, the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU) established m 1933, second in formative precedence only to the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa that represents the largest ethnic nationality in Delta State, wishes to express its appreciation to your government‘s engagement with the British Government over funds stolen from the coffers of the Delta State Government and its successful planned retrieval in trenches to Nigeria under a memorandum of understanding With the British government.

“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.

“UPU commends this development and appreciate 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-lbadan 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 loose these funds meant for direct projects in Delta state but initially taken away but now recovered, only to loose 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.

“Your Excellency, as mentioned above, there are Federal Projects that require urgent attention and revival within Delta state that will not only symbolically seal the goodwill of the people of the state towards your government for embarking on this endeavour, but will also reaffirm your government’s good disposition to our people as exemplified by the recent revival of the railway lines to warri to boost transportation and trade needed to enhance the revitalization of the numerous federal and state economic assets within the state, such as the Sea Ports, Steel Complex, Gas plant and Petroleum Refinery.

“We, therefore, kindly request your government to consider the following Federal projects and programs within Delta state that trenches of the expected re-funds should be used for, namely: *Rehabilitation of Ologbo-Warri federal Road *Rehabilitation of the SapeIe-Amukpe-Aghalokpe-EkuAbraka to Agbor Federal Road

*Rehabilitation of the Warri-Ughelli-Asaba Road. *Rehabilitation of deteriorated access roads and operational infrastructure of federal assets including Sea Ports, Refinery, Steel Complex, Security Personnel Barracks, federal tertiary institutions within Delta state.

*Unpaid disengaged staff of the Aladja Steel Complex Delta State.

*The dredging of the Escravos bar and Koko Port development (Itsekiri ). “Rehabilitation of Bomadi-Otuomo to Rugbenee-Ozobo Road in (Ijaw) .

*Rehabilitation of Umeh-Oleh-Ozoro Road in (lsoko) . *Expansion of Osubi Airport, Effurun.

“We have only compiled a short Iist of these few projects out of many that the federal government should use the returned funds for in the interest of justice and fairness that underpinned your government’s efforts to recover the funds and we urge that the recovered funds should be used for the beneficial interest of the people of Delta state.

“Your Excellency, the justice of this matter demands this and so shall you be remembered by our people given similar precedents of recovered funds returned by the federal government to Bayelsa and Plateau states.

“Surely, the joy of the people of Delta State and their gratitude will be boundless if your efforts are crowned by using the funds for federal projects In Delta State.

“We, therefore, appeal to and urge your government to favourably consider our request on behalf of the Urhobos and indeed the entire people of Delta State.”

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