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Cablegate: "Interpol" Interviews Nigeria's Chief Justice

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 000724

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KCOR NI
SUBJECT: "INTERPOL" INTERVIEWS NIGERIA'S CHIEF JUSTICE


CLASSIFIED BY COUNSELOR JAMES MAXSTADT FOR REASONS 1.5 B AND
D.

1. (SBU) Chief Justice of Nigeria Mohammed Lawal Uwais met
with a team of local and international law enforcement
officers April 19 over a bribery scandal variously reported
at 250 million Naira or 5 billion Naira. Press reports named
Ogbonna Onova, Deputy Inspector General of Police (CID), as
the lead investigator for INTERPOL of an allegation that some
Justices from the Supreme Court collected the payments to
give a favorable judgement for Governor James Ibori of Delta
State in an election tribunal. The suit against Ibori's 2003
election centers on Ibori not being eligible to run for
election because of a previous conviction for fraud, and the
bribe was allegedly for judges to allow submissions that the
convicted Ibori was some other fellow named Ibori.

2. (C) Supreme Court Registrar Danlami Senchi confirmed to
Emboff that Chief Justice Uwais has given approval to the
investigators to question other justices and staff of the
Supreme Court. In February, 2004, a group calling itself the
"Derivation Front" distributed a document to media houses
alleging that Ibori had bribed some Justices to get a
favorable judgement. Four days after the allegation, the
Supreme Court delivered a judgement ruling that one James
Onanefe Ibori had been convicted in the Bwari Area Court in
1995, but sending the case back to the originating court to
determine whether the Ibori of the Bwari case is actually
Delta Governor Ibori. Post has been unable to ascertain what
the INTERPOL angle is -- Governor Ibori, the Justices, and
the election are all Nigerian.

3. (C) BACKGROUND: Ibori's real battle is with political
chieftains from his own party, the ruling PDP, and stems from
his ties to VP Atiku and PDP Governor Ngige of Anambra. Two
PDP members, Owolomo Agbi and Anthony Alabi, challenged
Ibori's eligibility to hold office due to his previous court
conviction. Under Nigeria's Constitution, persons convicted
of any among a wide range of crimes are barred from holding
public office. Fraud qualifies.
ROBERTS

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