James Onanefe ibori, Former Governor of delta state was at the Freedom Thanksgiving Service at Ogharefe, Delta State.
THE Former Governor of Delta State had declared yesterday that he was not guilty of what he was convicted, saying he did no wrong to warrant his incarceration at a United Kingdom prison for 13 years which was commuted to about five years, stating that he is leaving his traducers to God.
This is just as he said he has, however, forgiven his jailers and handed them over to God.
Ibori made the statement during the Ibori Freedom Thanksgiving Service held at the First Baptist Church, Ogharefe, Ethiope West Local Government Area organised for him by the Oghara Traditional Council.
With a mammoth crowd in attendance, the church auditorium as well as its surroundings was filled to capacity by friends, kinsmen, political associates and well-wishers of the man nicknamed: “Odidigboigbo of Africa.”
Addressing the eager congregation after the sermon was rendered by chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), South South, Archbishop Goddowell Awomakpa, Ibori said that the pains and sufferings of his people, while in the UK prison, were his major concern and sorrows. “My pain is the pain of the sufferings that my people are going through. It gives me joy that all your prayers have been answered.
Thereafter, the ex-governor echoed a gospel chorus in Urhobo language translated as: “Who can battle with the Lord, who can battle with the Lord, I say nobody.”
Ibori, who code switched from English language to Urhobo language intermittently, thanked the people for their show of love throughout his travail in the foreign land.
“If I am to give testimony of my journey, we will not live here today. The only testimony I have to give is that I am alive and standing in your midst. I never had any doubt in my mind that I would get back home,” he said amid cheers and emotions of triumph from the congregation.
Meanwhile, in his sermon entitled: “Knowing the Gift of God,” Archbishop Awomakpa, in his characteristic manner, described the gift of God as someone who is obsessed with putting smiles on other people’s faces.
Awomakpa was to later identify and singled out former governor of Bendel State, late Sir Felix Ibru and Chief Ibori as the only two quintessential Urhobos to have affected lives so immensely in recent times.
Host traditional ruler, Ovie of Oghara, His Royal Majesty (HRM), Noble Oyibo Eshemitan, the Orefe III, while addressing the gathering, said his people were well pleased with Ibori.
According to the monarch, Ibori brought honour to Oghara and Delta State although he had gone to a “special school” and like the prodigal son, he’s back and “is it wrong to celebrate his return? He queried.
He enjoined Deltans to join political parties and gain political power in order to protect the interests of Christians, adding that selfish interest as yardstick for participating in politics should be eschewed at all cost.
Earlier at the thanksgiving service, the committee in charge of the event has averred that freed former governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, was not the cause of the problem of Nigeria.
Speaking to journalists on Ibori not being the cause of Nigeria’s trouble, chairman of the Ibori Freedom Thanksgiving Service, Chief Emmanuel Ighomena, said the country has not gotten better after his incarceration and eventual return.
Chief Ighomena advised Nigerians to stop being misled by fictitious publications by some disgruntled media establishments, saying “they should weigh reports before passing judgement.”