The Federal Government on Wednesday gave reasons why the Delta State Government should not claim the $15m said to have been received by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from an agent of former Governor James Ibori in 2007 as a bribe .
The Government said the state had once distanced itself from the sum when it deposed to an affidavit stating that it had not lost any money when Ibori was being investigated by the EFCC.
The money was kept in the Central Bank of Nigeria as an unclaimed property since August 2007, but an Abuja Federal High Court, presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, on July 24, 2012, granted an interim order forfeiting the cash to the Federal Government.
And at a hearing in the legal dispute over the controversial cash on Wednesday, EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), argued that it was already too late for state government to lay claim to the $15m.
Jacobs said, “It is too late for the Delta State Government to lay claim to the money because of their own action. When the EFCC was investigating Ibori, the Attorney-General of Delta State filed an action against the EFCC and the Attorney-General of the Federation, stating that the Delta State Government account should not be investigated.
“What is interesting is that they deposed in their affidavit that no money was lost by state government; that the Attorney-General of the state had investigated and the account was proper.”
The EFCC lawyer further argued that the state government ought to have filed charges against Ibori, if it was certain that the $15m belonged to it.
“When Ibori was convicted in London, the judge stated that he was convicted for money laundering. The Attorney-General of Delta State did not deemed it fit to file any charge against Ibori for this money which they claim is theirs .”
Jacobs stressed that the state has not placed any evidence before the court to prove that the $15m belonged to it.
Information from Punch was used in this report.