His sentence was announced at about 3.20pm today by Judge Anthony Pitts.
Earlier on, his lawyers had tried to make a case for a lenient sentencing. His lawyer, Nicholas Pernell blamed Badrash Gohil and former Akwa Ibom state governor, Victor Attah, for the V-Mobile scam saying they were the architects of the fraud. He further credited his client with every development in Nigeria, and especially in Delta state, from the banking reforms, to peace in the Niger Delta, education, and building of low-cost housing. Also in his defence, he stated that his client, James Ibori, played a part in supporting British industry even before he became governor. As evidence, he cited a letter from British Airways, thanking Ibori for restoring direct flights between Nigeria and Britain.
Mr. Pernell, in his conclusion, asked the Judge to consider the pressure that his client has been under since investigatons began in 2005, and also the accused’s children who now have both their parents in custody before passing his sentence.
Also in his defence, veteran sportsman, John Fashanu, made an appearance in the court today. He testified saying the former governor achieved a lot in sports, and was instrumental to the end of militancy in the state. He told the court that Ibori built nine mini-sports stadia and three Olympic-sized stadia in Delta state and also built the first shooting range in Nigeria.
The court went for a recess at about 12.30pm and reconvened at 2.25pm after which his sentence was read.
James Ibori had earlier pleaded guilty to a number of corruption and money laundering charges against him put at about $250million before Judge Pitts. This includes the V-Mobile and Bombardaire scams which amounted to $50million. Ibori and Victor Attah, former Akwa Ibom state governor also formed a phantom company called ADF to siphon US$37.5million from Delta and Akwa Ibom states’ shares in V-Mobile. He was accused of embezzling these funds during his tenure as governor and using most of them to live a lavish lifestyle and acquire property and assets around the world.
Judge Pitts said that the sentencing will not be the end of the matter as his property will also be confiscated.
News Source: Daily Times