Former Delta State governor, James Onanefe Ibori, who recently returned to the country after serving a 13-year jail term for money laundering in the United Kingdom, at a thanksgiving organized in his honour by his people at First Baptist Church, Oghara, Delta State has in his honour said on Sunday, has posited that his travails were mainly “to separate me from you people. They wanted me to go to the corner where I won’t be seen”.
Addressing the congregation, Ibori said, “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.
“That’s how I see it. …I am happy to be home with my people. There is nobody that can battle with the Lord. An Urhobo adage says there is time for everything (okemutie). A day will come when I will tell my story and every one of you will hear me. Today is to thank God.”
“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.
“Like Archbishop Avwomakpa said, when this whole commotion started, what was most painful to me was the pain and suffering that my people were going through. What I went through has nothing to do with me as a person because for some reasons, like I said to you, I drew my strength from God and somehow, I knew that God would stand by me.
“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.”
The former governor, who switched between Urhobo and English languages while speaking, added, “So, when I reflect, it gives me joy that all your prayers, God has answered, all your support and solidarity for me all through this period, it is indeed not what I can begin to say. Like what our former chief of staff, Francis Agboroh, said ‘it is unthinkable.’
Earlier in his message tagged, ‘Knowing the gift of God,’ the South-South Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Goddowell Avwomakpa, said a man carrying the gift of God was the one sent to bring joy to his people.
He added that Ibori was a gift to the Urhobo people irrespective of what he had passed through.
Avwomakpa stated that the people of the state were happy to have had Ibori back in good health.
In his brief remark, the traditional ruler of Oghara Kingdom, HRM Orefe III, said the thanksgiving was held to celebrate Ibori who had returned from the UK alive and in good health.
“Ibori’s natural charisma cannot be taken away from him as witnessed by the tumultuous welcome that ushered him back home. It is high time Deltans far and wide put behind their differences and rally around the Ibori Resource Control Brand to ameliorate their sufferings and get a better deal,” Abu urged.
The thanksgiving, which was attended by politicians including a former Delta State governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, a former Police Affairs Minister and his wife, Alaowie and Mrs. Broderick Bozimo, Ibori’s former deputy, Chief Benjamin Elue, Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, Mr. Ovuozourie Macaulay and Olorogun Paul Abu, was held under tight security.