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London High Court Awards James Ibori £1 For Unlawful Detention

Convicted former Delta State Governor James Ibori has won a London High Court declaration that he was unlawfully detained by Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

But Ibori, who claimed £4,000 in damages for breaches of his human rights, is only entitled to a nominal £1, a judge ruled. Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, sitting in London, declared that Ibori was unlawfully held for one day, 18 hours and 10 minutes from December 20 to 21 last year, the Mail reported.

The judge said the Home Secretary “failed to have regard to her limits to detain” as attempts were made to claw back millions from the fraudster. Ibori, a former London DIY store cashier, was jailed for fraud totalling nearly £50m in April 2012.

He was only half way through his 13-year sentence for fraud and money-laundering when he was released from prison last December. He has refused to give up the money he stole, and still owns a £2million three-bedroom apartment on Abbey Road in St John’s Wood, North London, opposite the recording studio used by the Beatles, according to the Mail. 

In rejecting Ibori’s bid for thousands in compensation, the judge ruled: “There is no compensatory loss to Mr Ibori and I fix nominal damages at £1.” Ibori was extradited to the UK for trial in February 2012 and prosecuted on the basis of evidence from the Metropolitan Police.

He pleaded guilty to 10 serious criminal charges over the appropriation of massive amounts of public funds during his two terms as governor of Delta State. He was sentenced in April 2012 at Southwark Crown Court to 13 years imprisonment, and an order for his deportation as a foreign criminal was made in May 2015.

Having spent time in custody in the United Arab Emirates, he was due to be conditionally released from prison on December 20, 2016. But the Home Office indicated that there was no intention to deport Ibori to Nigeria until he handed over at least £57m “proceeds of crime”.

An email stated “we cannot deport Mr Ibori until the confiscation matter has been resolved”.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd had tried to keep Ibori locked up until he had handed back at least £18million of the proceeds of his crimes. But the High Court ruled this was an abuse of her powers, and ordered Ibori to be freed. 

On December 21 last year, the day after his due release date, High Court Mrs Justice May ordered Ibori to be freed on conditions, describing the attempts to detain as “quite extraordinary”.

The judge said: “You don’t hold someone just because it is convenient to do so and without plans to deport them”.

A Home Office application that Ibori be electronically tagged and subject to strict curfew conditions was also rejected after the judge accepted arguments that the Home Secretary was attempting to misuse her immigration and deportation powers.

Ibori left the UK under his own steam on February 3, 2017, but also launched his claim for damages for false imprisonment and breach of his rights under the 1998 Human Rights Act not to be unlawfully detained.

Ruling yesterday that Ibori had been held unlawfully for almost two days, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said it followed a failure to hold effective confiscation proceedings. It was in the context of awaiting the making of an assets confiscation order, and likely subsequent efforts to “recoup” a sum estimated to be at least £57m, that the decision to detain Ibori was made.

The judge ruled: “In this case, the secretary of state has been wrong-footed by the failure of the prosecution to achieve determination of its confiscation proceedings against Mr Ibori prior to his release from prison on licence”.      (The Sun)

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I Am No A Thief, Claims Ibori |The Republican News

james-ibori1

Mr James Ibori

Ovie Okpare, Warri

A former Delta State governor, James Ibori, who was convicted of money laundering in the United Kingdom, said on Sunday, that he was not a thief.

The former governor spoke in public for the first time since his return from the United Kingdom where he served a 13-year jail term for money laundering. Ibori spoke at a thanksgiving service organised in his honour by the people of Oghara Kingdom at the First Baptist Church, Oghara in Delta State.

Ibori, dressed in Urhobo traditional attire, flanked by his elder sister, Mrs. Christine Ibori-Ibie and daughter, Erhiatake, arrived the venue of the thanksgiving at about 10.30am after the praise and worship service had commenced.

Addressing the congregation, Ibori said, “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.’

“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.”

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.

The monarch said, “What we are witnessing today started since last year when we heard that our son would soon be freed. Oghara is blessed with a big son in whom we are well pleased. Our son has put Oghara on the world map. We lost our son at a point but we are happy that he has returned and we are rejoicing.

“He (Ibori) is somebody who respects his kingdom and his monarch. We must continue to pray for him because he has touched many lives.”

One of Ibori’s loyalists, Olorogun Abu, said, “We are thanking God with Chief James Ibori because as the executive governor of Delta State he initiated and inaugurated a lot of laudable projects and programmes that had direct bearing on the lives of the majority of Deltans positively.

“Yes, it’s true he also made a few mistakes as a human being but he ‘sinned’ because he bravely spearheaded and championed the resource control advocacy to the chagrin of some big toes that hitherto were beneficiaries of the deplorable exploitation of the Niger Delta.

“The truth is when a leader truly affects the lives of majority of his people, they tend to ignore his weakness and errors. There are so many ex-governors whom if faced with the same travails faced by Ibori, they won’t get the same support Ibori is enjoying from Deltans today.

“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.

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Delta State Paid Ibori N250m In UK Prison-Investigation |The Republican News

Eniola Akinkuotu and Ovie Okpare

The Delta State Government paid former Governor James Ibori N250m while he was in jail in the United Kingdom between 2012 and 2016,an  investigation has revealed.

It will be recalled that Ibori was convicted on February 27 2012, after pleading guilty to 10 counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud at a Southwark Crown Court, London.

It was learnt that Ibori, who was accused of stealing over £250m, was entitled to life pension being a former governor of the oil-rich state.

The ex-governor, who served between 1999 and 2007, was able to sign into law the Delta State Governor and Deputy Governor Pension Rights and Other Benefits Law 2005 which was later amended in 2009.

The law makes provision for an ex-governor to be paid N50m per year among other perks.

Defending the payment of the money to Ibori in 2012, the then Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chike Ohgeah, said Ibori would continue to be paid N50m until a court nullified his tenure in office.

Ogeah said this in reaction to an affidavit deposed to by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which accused the state government of enriching the ex-governor.

He said, “The truth is that like every other elected governor who had served the state, Ibori was paid his pension entitlement and other benefits alongside his deputy under existing law. The law is the Delta State Governor and Deputy Governor Pension Rights and Other Benefits Law 2005 and the Delta State Governor and Deputy Governor Pension Rights and Other Benefits (Amendment) Law 2009.”

Calculations by one of our correspondents showed that for the five years Ibori spent in the UK prison, he was paid N250m by the state government.

Delta State is one of the states in the country currently struggling to pay salaries and which received bailout fund from the Federal Government.

According to a report on the bailout funds monitoring of states conducted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, in February 2016, Delta State had N36, 417,217, 601.53 as total debt value accrued from staff salaries and emoluments. The state was granted N10, 936, 799, 299 as bailout fund from the Federal Government.

Speaking with one of our correspondents on Saturday, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said the matter was a structural problem and it would be unfair to single out Ibori.

Falana explained that several states including those who could not pay salaries, were paying pensions to ex-governors who had also looted their state treasuries.

He said, “The matter goes beyond Ibori because he is not the only ex-governor collecting the pension. The law in Delta State does not say an ex-governor should stop receiving pay if he is convicted.

“The matter shows the failure of the Nigerian system. I am not defending Ibori but I don’t think he should be singled out. Pension for ex-governors should be scrapped completely.”

Meanwhile, the Delta State Government on Saturday said it was legal for it to honour the laws of the state by paying severance packages and other entitlements ascribed to former governors and deputies including Ibori.

The state government said it would be flouting the law if it decided not to pay the former governor.

Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said on Saturday that if the state government was owing Ibori his severance package, the government would clear the backlogs as clearly stipulated by law.

“If Ibori is entitled to pension by law, we will not take it away from him because that will be breaching the law . Even if he is owed, it is sure that he deserves the entitlements.’’

He also added that Ibori contributed meaningfully to the infrastructural development of the state and laid the foundation upon which successive governments were building on. (Punchng.com)

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$15m Bribe: EFCC Lists Ribadu As Key Witness Against Ibori |The Republican News

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Ex-Governor of Delta State, James Ibori

•I’m ready to testify, says ex-EFCC boss

John Alechenu and Eniola Akinkuotu

The pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been listed as a key witness against a former Governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori, who the Federal Government is attempting to repatriate from the United Kingdom, Saturday PUNCH can confirm.

Ribadu had in an affidavit accused Ibori of giving him $15m in 2007 so that the EFCC boss would not initiate a case against him.

After receiving the cash, however, Ribadu entered it into evidence after which it was kept in the vault of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Read more: Ibori Freed In UK, FG Begins His Extradiction Processs |The Republican News

Ribadu had said, “Ibori approached me with $15m to stop his investigation. The money was brought in sacks. I called my people because the money was in big bags, which two people could not carry and we deposited it in the CBN as evidence against him.”

In July 2012, the EFCC approached a Federal High Court in Abuja, requesting for a final order forfeiting the $15m Ibori bribe which had been in the vaults of the CBN for more than five years to the Federal Government as unclaimed proceeds of crime.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole on October 25, 2013, awarded the Federal government ownership of the $15m Ibori bribe which is the subject of legal tussle between the EFCC and the Delta State Government.

Justice Kolawole said that in the final analysis, “the applicant’s application to make a final forfeiture order succeeds and the said sum of $15m is hereby forfeited to the first applicant, that is, the Federal Government who shall take steps to capture it in its earnings of the Federal Government of Nigeria in its 2012/2013 fiscal year and shall administer the funds to address specific needs that will be beneficial to a greater number of the citizenry.”

When asked to react to information available to Saturday PUNCH that the Attorney General of the Federation had listed him among the Federal Government’s list of witnesses against Ibori, Ribadu said, “I am not aware. But if I am asked to testify, I will. But like I told you, nobody has contacted me.”

Read more: James Ibori May Face 170-Count Fraud Charges On Return |The Republican News

In a related development, the EFCC is expected to amend the 170 charges brought against Ibori in 2008 in order to avoid a case of double jeopardy.

The charges will be attached to an application for mutual legal assistance which will be sent to the UK government

The ex-governor, who spent four years in a UK prison, was released on Wednesday. Some of his supporters had also kicked against attempts by the Federal Government to arraign him in Nigeria next year, insisting that it would be unjust for him to be tried twice for the same crime.

A source at the EFCC, however, said, “Ibori’s alleged crimes are many. He was convicted on 10 counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.

“He can be charged with offering gratification to a public officer in order to refrain from acting in the exercise of his official duties regarding the investigation of the petition against him. This is not double jeopardy.” (Punchng.com)

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Ibori Freed In UK, FG Begins His Extradiction Processs |The Republican News

James Ibori

Ademola Oni, Eniola Akinkuotu, Bayo Akinloye, Toluwani Eniola, Ovie Okpare and Godwin Udoh

The Federal Government has commenced the process of extraditing a former governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori, from the United Kingdom, The PUNCH can confirm.

The Southwark Crown Court had, on April 17, 2012, sentenced Ibori to 13 years in prison after the ex-governor pleaded guilty to 10 counts of money laundering and stealing $250m from the Delta State treasury.

Ibori, a Peoples Democratic Party chieftain, was the governor of the state between 1999 and 2007.

He was, however, released on Wednesday following a court order that declined the UK government’s request for an extension of his sentence.

The UK Home Office had opposed Ibori’s release on the grounds that the process of the permanent forfeiture of his assets had yet to be completed.

According to the BBC, the UK Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, did not intend to deport Ibori to Nigeria until he handed over £18m of the “proceeds of crime” he alleged the ex-governor held.

The convicted former governor, was, however, allowed to go home on the condition that he would not travel out of the UK.

He is currently residing at his residence on Abbey Road, London, where he is under strict surveillance from where he will report to the UK Police weekly.

Impeccable sources within the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission told The PUNCH on Wednesday that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), had directed the EFCC to forward the file containing the 170 charges earlier brought against Ibori in Nigeria.

The EFCC operative told one of our correspondents that the Federal Government would liaise with the British government to ensure that Ibori was extradited to Nigeria.

A source in the EFCC said, “We have started the process of extradition in conjunction with the Office of the AGF. We had started extradition process years ago but stopped it since he was in prison.

“We have now reactivated the process. It is the AGF that will communicate with the British Government, which will then extradite Ibori to Nigeria. The court process will be sent to the UK Government for extradition.”

When asked why all Ibori’s London properties had not yet been forfeited to the Federal Government despite the ample time, the EFCC source explained that the British system was such that asset recovery was done post-conviction.

He added, “So, they are just starting the process and that is why he has been asked not to leave the UK but should be reporting every week.

“The British Government wanted him to remain in custody but the court said he could keep coming from home; so, he will remain in the UK for now. If he does not show up in the police station, then it will be assumed that he has absconded.”

Speaking with one of our correspondents on Thursday, the spokesman for the British High Commission in Nigeria, Mr. Joe Abuku, said the UK government would continue to assist Nigeria with the recovery of properties.

He, however, said he could not comment on the legal proceedings against Ibori.

In a terse text message to one of our correspondents, the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said, “His (Ibori’s) fate will be determined by the provisions of the law.”

A Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, Delta State, had, on December 17, 2009, discharged and acquitted Ibori of all 170 charges of corruption brought against him by the EFCC.

In 2010, his case was reopened by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

However, all attempts to arrest the ex-governor proved abortive as the 40 policemen guarding him at his country home in Oghara, Delta State, refused to allow the EFCC to arrest him.

Hundreds of youths in Delta State also confronted the EFCC operatives and prevented them from arresting the ex-governor by blocking the roads leading to his home with logs of wood.

Ibori fled Oghara in controversial circumstances and subsequently fled the country to Dubai, compelling the anti-graft agency to declare the fleeing ex-governor wanted.

The Federal Government could not apply for Ibori’s extradition as there was no extradition treaty between the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria at the time.

However, the British Government sought Ibori’s extradition and he was deported to the UK, where he was convicted and jailed for money laundering and fraud.

However, the EFCC took the matter to the Benin Division of the Appeal Court, where a three-man panel of justices on May 15, 2014, ruled that the ex-governor, who was serving a 13-year jail term in a London prison at the time, had a case to answer.

The EFCC subsequently said in a statement in 2014 that the ex-governor would be re-arrested upon the completion of his prison sentence in the UK.

The EFCC statement read, “With this judgment, the coast is clear for Ibori to face trial in Nigeria upon the completion of his jail term in London.”

Some of the properties traced to the ex-governor include a house in Hampstead, North London, worth £2.2m; a property in Shaftesbury, Dorset, worth £311,000; a £3.2m mansion in Sandton, near Johannesburg, South Africa; a fleet of armoured Range Rovers valued at £600,000; a £120,000 Bentley Continental GT; and a Mercedes-Benz Maybach 62 bought for €407,000 cash.

Ex-Delta governor released after four years

Ibori was released from the UK prison, where he had spent four years and eight months.

A London court ruled that the Home Office had no more powers to hold the ex-governor, who had served six-and-a-half-years of his 13-year jail term.

Ibori was jailed on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, for 13 years by the Southwark Crown Court, London.

He had earlier spent 645 days in detention facilities in Dubai and the UK which were deducted from his total jail term.

The British Broadcasting Corporation reported on Wednesday that the application made by the Britain Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, that Ibori remained in the UK until he handed over £18m of “proceeds of crime”, failed.

According to the BBC, the presiding judge, Mrs. Justice May, said, “The Secretary of State appears to have taken it upon herself that Mr. Ibori does remain in this country, in apparent contradiction of the order served earlier this year to deport him.

“The position of the Secretary of State, as very candidly set out by Mr. Birdling (representing the home secretary), is that she accepts that there is an argument that she has no power to detain him.

“I have decided that the balance of convenience falls heavily in favour of his immediate release. I am not prepared to impose conditions involving tagging or curfews. You don’t hold someone just because it is convenient to do so and without plans to deport them.”

The judge, however, said the matter of Ibori’s deportation should be heard before the end of January.

Ibori is expected to face a fresh trial in the UK meant to forfeit his assets in the country to the British government.

Mixed reactions greet former governor’s release

Meanwhile, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders called on the Federal Government to initiate the process to extradite the convicted ex-governor.

The Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, urged the government to ensure that Ibori did not escape justice in Nigeria.

He said, “As far as we know, Mr. Ibori has not answered the allegations against him here in Nigeria. In fact, we demand that the Federal Government should immediately make an official request to the UK for the extradition of the ex-convict to Nigeria to face trial over the corruption cases against him.

“It is really shameful that it was outside this country that Ibori was convicted in the UK, having wriggled through the labyrinths of our judicial system to escape justice. We believe, Ibori’s case is one of those that informed the statement credited to the former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, that Nigeria is fantastically corrupt.”

 Ogor, Amori, others hail ex-gov’s release

Meanwhile, Ibori’s release has sparked wild celebrations across Delta State as members of his political family returned to their various towns to celebrate the man many described as their ‘‘political mentor.”

As early as 9am on Wednesday when Ibori’s release became public knowledge, there was wild jubilation by youth groups, market women and political loyalists, who had long waited for his return to the state, where he still wields substantial political power.

From Oghara to Mosogar, Asaba to Agbor, Ughelli to Otu-Jeremi, Gbaramatu to Patani and Warri to Effurun and Sapele, Ibori’s release was widely celebrated while many followers of the former governor also took to social media platforms –Facebook and Twitter – on Wednesday, to celebrate his possible homecoming.

A commissioner under Ibori and Special Adviser to Mr. Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the PDP, Chief Ighoyota Amori, said the jubilation that greeted Ibori’s release was not surprising.

Amori, who spoke with one of our correspondents on the telephone, said, “It’s celebration everywhere in Mosogar, Oghara, Jesse, the whole Urhobo land and Nigeria.

“Our joy knows no bounds as Deltans and Nigerians and in fact, the entire Urhobo nation, await his triumphal return to his fatherland. Ibori remains our hero.  He remains our political leader and mentor irrespective of what his haters think.”

He added that the ex-governor’s political family was waiting for his return.

Amori added, “We are preparing for his (Ibori) return. His coming will be made known to everyone and will be greatly celebrated by all those who love him, especially we, who he had mentored and tutored in the game of politics. Ibori is our mentor and political father.”

The Delta State Chairman of the PDP, Olorogun Kingsley Esiso, declined comment, saying he would speak on Ibori’s release on a later date.

The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Leo Ogor, said he and other political associates of the ex-governor were in a mood of celebration, noting that Ibori remained a political leader, whose release should be celebrated.

Ogor, who is the member, representing Isoko Federal Constituency, said, ‘‘Ibori’s release calls for celebration. He’s our great leader whose political prowess knows no bounds. Let’s just keep politics from his release. But I know for sure Ibori will not just jump parties, but if he said we should jump, we will jump because he is our leader.”

Efforts to reach Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Charles Aniagwu, for reaction were unsuccessful as his telephone lines indicated they were not available at the time of filing this report.

Also, activities in Asaba and its environs were paralysed on Wednesday over Ibori’s release.

Joyous youths sang in Ibo along Nnebisi Road, Summit Junction, Okpanam Road and Anwai Road, where they danced to Asaba drum beats, thereby causing serious gridlock.

Security agents and the popular Ogbeogonogo Market Women were not left out in the jubilation.

One of the market women, Mrs. Esther Nnamdi, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said, “We are grateful to God for his mercies. Ibori is a man and a great man; we are very happy for him.”

In some government offices in Asaba, civil servants spoke glowingly about Ibori, commending him on how he had developed the state.

Palmer Osakwe, a civil servant told The PUNCH, “Ibori is a great man. He developed the state. We want him to be pardoned by the Federal Government. He is a man.”

A lawyer in Asaba, Mr. Lawrence Egodike, appealed to the Federal Government to grant the former governor, (James Ibori) a state pardon, adding that he contributed immensely to the development of the state.

The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Peter Mrakpor, who spoke to journalists in Asaba, described Ibori’s release as a welcome development, adding that he had contributed to the development of the nation.

“I’m particularly grateful and hope that the Federal Government would grant him a state pardon,” he said.

A statement by Ibori’s media assistant, Mr. Tony Eluemunor, confirmed the release of the former governor, but added that the convict was ordered to be released immediately.

Eluemunor added, “So, in court, Ibori’s lawyers exposed the injustice in the indefinite detention the Home Office had planned for Ibori.  They told the judge that there were no grounds in law under which Ibori could be detained and that his detention for one day by the Home office was unlawful .” (Punchng.com)

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How James Ibori Got Freed-Aide Explains |The Republican News

Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation How Ibori secured freedom - Aide

Ibori, second from left with family members and friends in London after his release on Wednesday Photo: Thewillnigeria.com

Despite the completion of his jail term, ex-Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, on Wednesday fought till the last minute to regain freedom.

The British Home Office was said to have opposed Ibori’s release because confiscation hearing had not been concluded.

But the Crown Prosecution lawyer, Sian Davies, did not object to Ibori’s release and return to Nigeria.

The drama which beclouded Ibori’s release was contained in a statement issued by his Media Assistant, Mr. Tony Eluemunor.

The statement said: “At 12: 20 p.m. Wednesday 21 December 2016, Her Honour, Mrs. Justice Juliet May, Queen’s Counsel, dropped her verdict; she ordered the immediate release of Chief James Onanefe Ibori.

“With that Ibori’s lawyers won a major victory against the British Home Office, at the Royal Court of Justice, Queens Court 1, London, by successfully challenging the decision not to release Ibori who was due for freedom on Tuesday, December 20, after serving his sentence.

“In a curious move, the British Home Office, instead of releasing Ibori on December 20, informed him that he would be detained.

“So, in court, Ibori’s lawyers exposed the injustice in the indefinite detention the Home Office had planned for Ibori.  They told the judge that there were no grounds in law under which Ibori could be detained and that his detention for one day by the Home office was unlawful.

Read more: UK: The Former Governor of Delta State Gov. Ibori Released and Re-arrested

“Therefore, there was high drama in the British High Court as senior lawyers for the UK’s Home Office failed in their last minute bid to prevent Ibori’s release.

“The apparent decision to block Ibori’s release and detain him appeared to have come from the highest echelons of the UK Government – the Home Secretary who was accused in today’s hearing of acting unlawfully and misusing her powers.

“The Crown Prosecution lawyer, Sian Davies, did not object to Ibori’s release and return to Nigeria, yet at the last minute the Home Office stepped in. There is clear discord between the two arms of the British Government.

“Ibori’s team was led by Ian McDonald QC, the leading QC on immigration.

“The visibly irritated judge could not understand the Home Secretary’s position and at times was critical of the move to detain Ibori any further.  Mrs. Justice May rejected the Home Secretary’s requests for conditions to be imposed and ordered Ibori’s immediate release.

Readmore: James Ibori May Face 170-Count Fraud Charges On Return |The Republican News

“Ivan Krolic, who also attended, explained that Ibori’s confiscation proceedings collapsed in 2013, after the prosecution was unable to establish any theft from Delta State and any benefit for Ibori, from anywhere. A three-week hearing which heard live evidence was abandoned by the prosecutors – Wass QC and Shutzer-Weissman. Both prosecutors have since been dismissed from the case for gross misconduct.

“Krollic further explained that British police officers in the case led by DC McDonald have again been referred to the Independent Public Complaints Commission and now face a thorough investigation into their corrupt activities in this case. The CPS has confirmed officers in the case were corrupt. It has since disclosed substantial material evidencing the graft.

“Ibori and others have long maintained that this prosecution was politically motivated. It was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, DFID, whose senior employee was also the jury foreperson in one of the earlier trials.

“The Ibori case has been plagued with British police corruption, exceptional prosecutorial misconduct and fundamental non-disclosure.  A multitude of appeals have now been launched or are in the process of being launched.” (The Nation)

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