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James Ibori to Regain Freedom in December as His Lawyer Says He is “95 Percent Certain” to Appeal His Conviction

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James Ibori

James Ibori

Former governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori will become a free man in December, after completing half of his sentence in UK prisons.

Ibori was jailed for money laundering offences by Southwark Crown court in 2012.

But it was not clear whether he will immediately return home because legal proceedings concerning the confiscation of his assets worth tens of millions of dollars, were unresolved.

They were supposed to have been resolved years ago, but have ground to a halt due to the allegations of police corruption and the prospect of Ibori taking his case to the Court of Appeal.

A London court was told on Friday that Ibori would appeal against his conviction on the grounds that British police and lawyers involved in his case were themselves corrupt.

Ibori, who as governor of oil-producing Delta State from 1999 to 2007 became one of Nigeria’s richest and most powerful men, is serving a 13-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering.

While in office, Ibori acquired luxury properties in Britain, the United States, South Africa and Nigeria. He is the most senior Nigerian politician to have been held to account for the corruption that has blighted Africa’s most populous nation.

His jailing in Britain, where he had laundered millions of pounds and sent his children to an expensive private school, was hailed as a high point in the international fight against graft and an important signal to other corrupt politicians.

But his lawyer, Ivan Krolick told Southwark Crown Court on Friday that Ibori is “95 percent certain” to challenge his conviction in the Court of Appeal based on documents that have only recently been disclosed to the defence by the prosecution.

At the same hearing, Stephen Kamlish, a lawyer for Ibori’s associate and convicted money launderer Bhadresh Gohil, said the documents showed there had been widespread police corruption followed by a cover-up that was still going on now.

The main allegation is that a police officer involved in the Ibori probe took payments for information in 2007 from a firm of private detectives working on Ibori’s behalf. At the time, Ibori had not been arrested and was still in Nigeria, but knew that British police were investigating his finances.

Kamlish said prosecution lawyers had known there was evidence of police corruption but had failed to disclose it to defence lawyers. Krolick told Reuters on the sidelines of Friday’s court hearing that Ibori did not know about the payments at the time.

The police have said that the allegation was thoroughly investigated and that no one was arrested or charged, and no misconduct identified. The officer against whom the allegations have been made is still in active service.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), after a lengthy internal investigation, said in September it was confident that the convictions of Ibori and Gohil remained valid.

The CPS has said it found “material to support the assertion that a police officer received payment in return for information”. It did not use the word “evidence”, suggesting it did not consider the material in question amounted to proof.

But the CPS conceded in September that the material should have been disclosed to the defence, and handed over thousands of documents to defence lawyers. Those were the documents that Kamlish and Krolick were referring to in court on Friday.

Gohil has already filed an appeal against his conviction. Krolick said Ibori was likely to do so once his legal team had finished going through all the newly disclosed documents.

As is normal under British procedures, Ibori is due to be released in December after serving half his sentence, taking into account pre-trial detention.

Gohil, a British former lawyer, has already been released after serving half of a 10-year term for his role in laundering Ibori’s millions.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) was established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in May 1976 to gather and distribute news on Nigeria and cover events of interest to Nigeria at the international level for the benefit of the Nigerian Media and the Public.

7 Comments

  1. Iris

    October 8, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Watch him come back, run for some.kind of public office again, and win. In fact, I’m sure the local parishes in his hometown are getting ready their wish list for his thanksgiving church service and reception.

  2. chic wen sabi

    October 8, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Yesso, we are waiting for the grand welcome ceremony . Make I go ready my wrapper and 2 handkerchief. Area Area Area any in da house…….

    • Lala

      October 9, 2016 at 9:38 pm

      Sorry for you. A dream sgrace to delta state, your family and the nation. Your education was a waste, no apologies.

    • Lala

      October 9, 2016 at 9:38 pm

      A disgrace….

  3. Tee

    October 9, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Sorry Pastors, you see why only prayer cannot deliver Naija. Guess what, after the vigil in church cursing and binding all enemies of Nigeria, some members are praying for Nepa to bring light when they return home so they could iron their wrappers to celebrate the same enemy. China no sabi God, still them they prosper. That’s why God give us brain to develop our land and bring sanity to our system, not pardon thieves and celebrate them. Till then, God is having tea and watching as we waste our lives, time and effort chasing the wind. Another ‘hero’ will be released in December. Thank goodness my children shall live by example and in a system that will help them grow, definitely not naija

  4. joking

    October 9, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Yes oo. The ogidigbodigbo is coming home. All d baby powders will be poured.
    “Ibori u are our man u are our choice again.”
    Who else grew up in Delta state here?

  5. julietogbo

    October 10, 2016 at 9:53 am

    He should come n let buhari deal with him

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