A violent mob has prevented police in Nigeria from arresting former Delta state governor James Ibori, a politicalpowerbroker wanted in connection with money-laundering allegations, police said on Wednesday.
Senior officers including a deputy inspector general and the Delta state police commissioner went to apprehend Ibori on Tuesday but were ambushed and attacked as they entered Oghara, his hometown in southern Nigeria’s oil heartland, police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu said.
“They went to his place and a mob attacked them and damaged some vehicles. The police retreated,” Ojukwu said.
News Agency said the mob were armed and had exchanged fire with police but Ojukwu could not confirm this.
“I am not aware of any gunfire but I know they were a violent mob … They attempted to prevent police from having access to him to have him arrested,” he said.
Ibori, one of Nigeria’s most influential and controversial politicians, is a member of the Elders’ Committee of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and was instrumental in the rise to power in 2007 of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Yar’Adua returned from three months in a Saudi clinic, where he was being treated for a heart condition, in February but remains too sick to govern. Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has said fighting corruption is one of his top priorities.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria’s anti-corruption police, said last week it wanted to question Ibori over allegations that 44 billion naira was looted from Delta state government coffers while he was governor.
Ojukwu said a court order for Ibori’s arrest had been served on the police at the start of the week and vowed to use “all legal means” to apprehend him.
Ibori, who could not immediately reached to comment, has maintained that the charges against him are born out of political rivalry at the heart of the PDP.
The EFCC charged Ibori in 2007 with looting more than $85 million during his eight-year tenure as governor of Delta, one of three main oil-producing states in the southern Niger Delta, but a court dismissed the charges in December.
SOURCED FROM REUTERS