James Ibori, former governor of Delta state, says the biggest concern he had while serving a jail sentence in the UK was how his people were coping in his absence.
Speaking in his hometown of Oghara during a special thanksgiving service organised in his honour, Ibori said those behind his travails had the intention of keeping him away from his people.
He appreciated his supporters for the love shown to him, saying he had always known that “a day like this would come”.
“Today I have decided to speak for myself. I am not a thief, I cannot be a thief,” he said.
“Today is the day they say I should give testimony to God, for those who 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, blessed by God and I believe that since the day I was born.
“Like the arch bishop said, when this whole commotion started, what was most painful to me was the pain and suffering that my people were going through.
“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.
“It 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 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 who have indeed suffered the pains of my absence.”
Ibori, who said he lacked words to express his feelings, added that God answered the prayers of those who wish him well.
“When I reflect, it gives me joy that all your prayers, God has answered. I thank you for all your support and solidarity with me all through this period,” he said.
“It is indeed not what I can begin to say. 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.
“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. A day will come when I will tell my story and every one of you will hear me, but for today, it is just to thank God.”