James Ibori, former governor of Delta state, says he went to the United Kingdom on sabbatical leave. A London court had sentenced Ibori to prison after convicting him of money laundering in 2012.
The former governor ended his jail term in 2016 and returned to Nigeria the following year. Ever since he returned, his supporters have organised different receptions for him. Ibori has also been attending many high-profile events.
Speaking earlier in the month when a reception was organised in his honour at Ovwor-Olomu in Ughelli south local government area of Delta, Ibori appreciated the support of his people.
The programme was attended by top politicians, including Uche Secondus, chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Traditional rulers, members of the national assembly, distinguished senators, members of the house of reps, the chairman of this occasion… please distinguished ladies and gentlemen, youths and women, permit me to stand on existing protocols,” he said.
“My first appreciation is to God Almighty, first for bringing me back home safely. It’s been a year since I returned from my sabbatical leave in the UK.”
The crowd erupted and Ibori, speaking in Urohbo language, asked: “Was it not a sabbatical leave?”
The people responded affirmatively.
“I thank you, once again, for this. As I always say, there will be time for me to speak, today is just to thank you,” he said.
A tumultuous crowd welcomed Ibori to Oghara, his hometown in Delta in February 2017.
At the first reception organised in his honour, Ibori said: “I am not a thief”.
“Today I have decided to speak for myself. I cannot be a thief,” he had said.
“Today is the day they say I should give testimony to God, for those who know me, you know that my entire life is a testimony itself and I have said it over and over again that my life is fashioned by God, directed by God, sealed, acknowledged, blessed by God and I believe that since the day I was born.”