James Ibori/Image copyright Reuters
James Ibori/Image copyright Reuters

By Ogbolu George with agency report

Ex-governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who was convicted for money laundering in the United Kingdom, has said that he was not a thief and cannot be a thief.

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James Ibori was speaking for the first time since his return to the country at a thanksgiving service organised in his honour at the First Baptist Church, Oghara in Delta State.

”Today, I have decided to speak for myself; I am not a thief. I cannot be a thief. Today is the day they say I should give testimony to God.

”For those that 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 and blessed by God and I believe that since the day I was born.

”I knew that one day, this day would come. I am indeed very pleased that I can now stand before you and look at your faces, faces that I have missed and those of you that have indeed suffered the pains of my absence. It has nothing to do with me.” Ibori said.

He said that he was delighted and grateful to God for bringing him back to his people even when, according to him, some individuals wanted him to become irrelevant.

”If I am to give testimony of my journey you will not leave here. The only testimony that I have is the fact that I am back and alive in your midst. And again, I say that I never had any doubt in my mind that I would get back home.

”When I looked at how things were going, I discovered that they wanted to separate me from you people. They wanted me to go to the corner where I won’t be seen”. He added.

The thanksgiving, held under tight security, was attended by politicians including immediate past governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, and Ibori’s former deputy, Benjamin Elue.