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Ibori arrives, treated to heroic welcome in Delta

By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu (Benin City), Karls Tsokar (Abuja) and Chido Okafor (Warri)
05 February 2017   |   4:36 am
Former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, yesterday arrived the country aboard the British Airways, after serving his jail terms in the United Kingdom over charges bordering on corruption and money laundering.

Allegedly Met With DSS

Former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, yesterday arrived the country aboard the British Airways, after serving his jail terms in the United Kingdom over charges bordering on corruption and money laundering.

Agency reports quoting an official of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, said British Airways plane conveying Ibori touched down in the airport early in the morning.

According to the reports, the former governor was picked up by some people to an undisclosed place. The identity of those who received him was not disclosed, but it was rumoured that he was briefly taken to the office of the Department of State Security Service for debriefing, before being allowed to leave for his home state.

At his home state, Delta, it was celebration, as his loyalists and notable personalities trooped to Osubi Airstrip, Warri to welcome home their hero.
They had massed at the airstrip as early as 9am, singing and dancing to give him a befitting heroic welcome.

Some of the personalities at the airstrip were former commissioners who served under Ibori, party leaders from various local councils and several hundreds of youths who happily branded themselves “Ibori Boys”.

At about 10 am, news filtered in that Ibori was already airborne and on his way to Warri. Every plane that landed was thought to be conveying the former governor; many loyalists were restrained by the airstrip personnel from running towards landing planes.

At about 2:27 pm after many people had waited for over six hours, the news filtered in again that Ibori’s flight had been diverted to Benin. A sudden feeling of disappointment immediately enveloped the airstrip. People lamented that they had been made to spend a lot of time at the strip, only to be told that Ibori would arrive through the Benin Airport.

As they made to leave, a commotion ensued when another plane landed and words quickly spread that it was Ibori’s flight that landed. Cars and jeeps started making a U-turn only to discover that it was a hoax and that indeed Ibori would land at the Benin Airport.

At Benin airport, he was shielded from the prying eyes of journalists who had besieged the airport as early as 9am, when news of his arrival filtered into the state.

At exactly 2.20pm, a private jet with black and red stripes marked 5N-IZY landed and Ibori and few persons believed to be family members alighted amidst tight security of highly kitted, stern looking and heavily armed mobile policemen and plain cloth operatives.

Indication that an eminent personality was being expected started when two unmarked Toyota Land Cruiser jeeps, an orange colour Murano jeep drove to the parking lot at the VIP wing of the airport, the occupants briefed other persons believed to be members of the entourage.

Few minutes later, an additional four other unmarked black Toyota jeeps and three Hilux vans, all loaded with security personnel drove into the airport complex.

Some persons believed to be aides, dressed in black jacket were the first to alight from the jet, then Ibori himself, who wore a black top on a black jeans came down and was accompanied into the VIP waiting room.

He was shielded into one of the stationed jeeps.The battle ready security men whose hands were on the triggers were apparently drafted to keep the few journalists around from getting close and taking photographs of the private jet and Chief Ibori.

Many of the airport staff and security were not aware of the arrival of Ibor. The convoy drove off at about 2:47pm on at speed with Chief Ibori’s vehicle leading the way.

It was learnt that the Benin airport was used as a decoy to divert attention of the mammoth crowd of family members, political associates, friends and well-wishers, who converged at the Osubi airport to receive him.

Meanwhile, his media aide, Tony Eluemunor, said the former Governor arrived his village Oghara at about 4:40pm local time to a well-planned welcome ceremony put together by his kinsmen.

Ibori was released from British prison in December after serving half of his 13-year sentence, taking into account pre-trial detention. Born on Aug. 4, 1959, Ibori was the governor of Delta from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)

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