Thursday, 23 March 2017

Rejoinder: Chris Akor’s Fantastically Rumour-laden Article


By Tony Eluemunor

The fantastically rumour – besotted Chris Akor, in “The face of a fantastically corrupt country” (Business Day of Wednesday February 15, 2017) embraced rumour and nothing but his beloved rumour.

To worsen matters, he also lied when he wrote: ….“was demonstrated last week at the N350 million church thanksgiving and RECEPTION packaged, according to Sahara reporters, by the Delta state government to welcome him home. Not only was the entire Delta state government machinery diverted to Oghara, all politicians of note, the who-is-who in the state, plus a massive and tumultuous crowd were on hand to rejoice with and welcome him home”.  Which reception was he referring to? And which “government machinery was diverted to Oghara?” No reception held anywhere for Ibori after the church service!

Next paragraph:  In the service of another rumour, Akor wrote: “In April 2010, when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission wanted to arrest (Ibori) he escaped to his hometown in Oghara, where youths barricaded the community and successfully prevented the EFCC from having access to the community to arrest the embattled former governor”.  That is a lie. The EFCC never attempted to arrest Ibori in Oghara and were turned back. Never!

In the very next sentence, he lied again; “The same Urhobo people organised his escape (he confessed to being ferried out of the country through a river by Oghara youths) to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates”. Sincerely, Ibori has never made such a confession. Also, he could not have gone through a river to Dubai because no river runs from the Niger Delta to Dubai! Chris Akor obviously needs an Atlas map!

Next paragraph; next rumour, next lie! “Alamieyesiegha jumped or was allowed to jump bail and escaped to Nigeria dressed as a woman”. Is Chris Akor’s mind so simplistic that he actually believes that in 2005, DSP Alamieyesiegha could have passed through a British Airport dressed as a woman or mermaid or goat or Chris Akor and no CCTV camera captured that image? And why has it remained impossible till date to identify the airline that brought him to Lagos and Port Harcourt?   I gave up on Chris Akor after encountering so many rumours and outright lies. Here’s my advice to Chis Akor : “please be serious”!
Our columnists could learn from an observant and inquisitive Josef Omorotionmwan (Vanguard of Thursday Feb. 16, 2017). He wrote: “Delta is one of the most enlightened States throughout the Federation. Yet, (the people) love Ibori most passionately – to the extent that many would be willing to go to prison in his stead; and many would be willing to die so that Ibori could live. When Ibori returned to Nigeria recently … he got the type of reception that no Nigerian Head of State has ever received. And this came in spite of the fact that many had written and spoken of the folly in coming out to welcome him. If some former Governors … had to quietly return home in total infamy after service; and you have Ibori’s return being celebrated in grand style, then, Ibori must have something going for him. He, therefore, becomes a special research subject.  That’s our major point of interest”.

Josef Omorotionmwan’s has originality of thought. He has depth. He does not flow with the flotsam and jetsam in the sea of rumours.  But he forgot to EMPHASIZE that the admiration for Ibori cuts across Delta State’s ethnic divide as the Urhobo, Anioma, the Isoko, the Ijaw and the Itsekiri peoples celebrated his return with equal vigour. So where is the “primordial” and “tribal” nonsense some columnists embraced in this case as they misapplied Prof Peter Ekeh’s postulations to insult the Delta people?  Akor actually called the remarkable Achebe just a “story teller” in that article; so he even dismissed Achebe too!

Adherents to their school of politics had spent years demonizing Ibori but he returned obviously more popular than his political traducers and their slavish newspaper cheerleaders expected. Please, note that I used the term slavish as Jimmy Cliff used it in his “Poor Slave” reggae music track: “A slave is still a slave/If he can't think independently” (Fundamental Reggae album: 1973).

Also, the visitors who came to felicitate with Ibori were not all politicians. Gen. David Ejoor (rtd) Mid-West Region’s Military Governor in 1966 when Ibori was eight years old and who was Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters when Ibori was a teenager, was helped to walk from and back to his car when he visited Ibori. The remarkable inventor, Brig-Gen Otu Oviemo Ovadje (ret) a highly endorsed Nigerian medical doctor who invented the Emergency Auto Transfusion System (EAT-SET) – an affordable, simpler and effective blood auto-transfusion system, also visited him. They wouldn’t have come for handouts either!

The genuine love for Ibori in Delta, the South-South and even across the land has endured despite all the slings and arrows Nigerian politicians, British DfID agency and self-serving but ill-informed  and out rightly dubious columnists have sent against Ibori – columnists who have refused to acknowledge that Ibori had other sources of income while he was governor (and EFCC knew this all the while as the story in the Financial Times of London of November 16, 2007, “Probe into Chevron and Shell payments” by Michael Peel and Dino Mahtani, showed). It stated that “Anti-corruption investigators are probing payments by ChevronTexaco and Royal Dutch Shell to a company owned by Ibori”;  to find reasons to frozen the account and demonise Ibori. Another item in the charges showed Ibori bought the UK properties with money legitimately earned, e.g., through MER Engineering (an oil service company);  that the first confiscation hearing ended in 2013 and no millions of dollars were found anywhere to be seized, and so another confiscation trial was decreed, that till today, no evidence that Ibori stole Delta State’s money exists anywhere.

Above all, the Ibori trial in Nigeria is different from the London trial; while it was beyond every reasonable doubt in Nigeria, it was just on inference alone in Britain, so nothing needed to be proved at all – not even the predicate case of establishing a crime before talking of money laundering.  If I’m proved wrong on any point of fact, I pledge to publicly apologise.

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