– Investigation has revealed that James Ibori was receiving life pension while in UK detention
– The state defended the payment that he was entitled to it by law
– The former governor was imprisoned for money laundering and corruption-related offenses
James Ibori who is the former governor of Delta state was paid N250 million by the state government while serving his prison term in the United Kingdom.
The former governor was released on Wednesday, December 21 after serving a 12-year jail term fo money laundering and corruption-related offenses.
The Punch reports that while still in detention, Ibori was duly receiving his life pension from the Delta state government.
Ibori was able to sign into law the Delta State Governor and Deputy Governor Pension Rights and Other Benefits Law 2005 which was later amended in 2009 which guarantees the payment of N50 million annually for life to a former governor of the state.
After an accusation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that the state was enriching the former governor, Mr. Chike Ohgeah who was the then commissioner for information defended the state.
He said: “The truth is that like every other elected governor who had served the state, Ibori was paid his pension entitlement and other benefits alongside his deputy under existing law. The law is the Delta State Governor and Deputy Governor Pension Rights and Other Benefits Law 2005 and the Delta State Governor and Deputy Governor Pension Rights and Other Benefits (Amendment) Law 2009.”
In spite of the state’s inability to pay salaries and still had to collect bailout fund from the federal government, Delta state sill continued to pay Ibori in prison.
Mr. Femi Falana a human rights lawyer reacted to the situation saying it was a structural problem as many states still paid former governors who looted their treasuries.
He said: “The matter goes beyond Ibori because he is not the only ex-governor collecting the pension. The law in Delta State does not say an ex-governor should stop receiving pay if he is convicted.
The matter shows the failure of the Nigerian system. I am not defending Ibori but I don’t think he should be singled out. Pension for ex-governors should be scrapped completely.”
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa also defended the state saying the former governor contributed to the development of Delta.
He said: “If Ibori is entitled to pension by law, we will not take it away from him because that will be breaching the law . Even if he is owed, it is sure that he deserves the entitlements.’’