Uduaghan in secret visit to Ibori in prison

Indications emerged on Saturday that the Delta State Governor, Mr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, may have paid a secret visit to his predecessor, Chief James Ibori, currently in detention at the Kaduna Convict Prison.

An eye-witness told our correspondent that Uduaghan sneaked into the Kaduna metropolis in the early hours of Saturday to visit his former boss.

According to the eye-witness, the Delta governor�s convoy of about five black jeeps and three other accompanying Delta State Government House vehicles were sighted at about 10.30am along Kachia Road heading towards the road leading to the Kaduna Convict Prison.

He, however, said that all the vehicles in the governor�s convoy, with the exception of his pilot car had their number plates and the governor�s official seal covered.

Our source could however not confirm whether the Delta State governor himself was in any of the vehicles in the convoy as the tinted glasses prevented anyone from identifying the occupants.

A source at the prison however told our correspondent that Uduaghan�s convoy arrived at the prison gate at about 11.00am on Saturday and that the person believed to be the governor was immediately ushered in along with some of his aides to see his detained predecessor. But he declined to give further details about the meeting of the duo.

Scores of powerful politicians like a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and a former Minister for Transport as well as other past and current public office holders, including Federal and state lawmakers, had already visited Ibori in the prison.

The Immediate past governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, who is currently a senator, admitted before newsmen in a recent interview that he paid a visit to his former colleague being held in the prison.

The immediate past governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa is also reported to have visited Ibori.

Also, a former minister of police affairs reportedly took ill and died in his hotel room in Kaduna shortly after visiting Ibori in prison.

The prison outreach of the First Baptist Church in Kaduna is also said to have visited the former Delta State governor who is said to be a baptist.

The constant presence of visitors at the prison wanting to see Ibori later turned a source of worry and fears to the authorities.

Alarmed by the security implications posed by the large number of persons who daily besieged the prison on visits since the arrival of the former governor there, the prison authorities had to limit the number of persons visiting him.

Our correspondent could however not reach the prison authorities for comments.

Ibori�s hope of a temporary freedom in his ongoing prosecution for alleged financial crimes, had on December 17 suffered serious setback with the refusal of his bail application by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu of the Federal High Court in Kaduna.

The judge who had insisted that the ex-governor did not place sufficient materials before the court to enable him admit Ibori to bail however ordered that the ex-governor be remanded in the Kaduna Prisons, while adjourning the matter till January 11, 2008.

Ibori�s counsels had orally applied for his bail while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission opposed his temporary freedom.

Ibori is being prosecuted alongside a lady, Udoamaka Okoronkwo and three firms linked with him on a 103 -count charge of alleged laundering of about N9.1 bn belonging to the Delta State Government.

The EFCC has however filed a fresh 129-count charge against the ex-governor in replacement of the previous 103- count charge.

The Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Oma Djeba, however, dismissed the story, saying that the governor did not leave the state on Saturday.

He told our correspondent over the telephone that Uduaghan presided over a meeting in Asaba that started int he evening.

�There is no way he could preside over the meeting and still be in Kaduna at the same time,� he explained.

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