Tuesday, 17 April 2012
FORMER DELTA STATE GOVERNOR JAMES IBORI GETS 13YRS JAIL TERM
The case of fraud against Mr Ibori began when he left office after serving as the governor of Delta state for eight years. The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) under Nuhu Ribadu had accused the ex-governor of embezzling monies belonging to Delta state.
Based on evidence collected during the investigation of Mr Ibori, the EFCC had arraigned the former governor before a Federal High Court in Kaduna.
Mr Ibori later challenged the jurisdiction of the Kaduna court to try him. The ex-governor won the case and the case was transferred to the newly built High Court in Asaba.
The presiding judge of the Asaba high court, Marcel Awokulehin discharged and acquitted Mr Ibori, of all the 170-count of corruption proffered against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In April 2010, about three months after the take over of government by Goodluck Jonathan, Ibori’s case file was reopened. A new allegation that he embezzled N40 billion was pressed against him. Attempts to arrest him were unsuccessful. It was reported that he fled from Abuja to Lagos and then to the creeks of Oghara, his homeland in Delta state where he was reportedly guarded by armed militias and they once had a shoot out with government security forces.
On 25 April 2010 there were reports that Ibori had fled the country to evade arrest by operatives of the EFCC. The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Femi Babafemi, confirmed that the commission was in possession of an intelligence report that Ibori had fled Nigeria and added that the assistance of Interpol might be sought to effect his arrest once his location was established.
The Compass Newspaper reported on 12 July 2010 that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido revealed that Mr Ibori used Delta State as collateral for N40 billion loan when he (Ibori) was governor.
Mr Ibori was later confirmed to have fled to Dubai, United Arab Emirate where he was arrested by agents of INTERPOL based on an international arrest warrant issued by the United Kingdom government in respect of money laundering charges.
The former governor was reportedly granted bail after his initial arraignment in Dubai. His media assistant, Tony Eluemunor, said that Ibori was left to “go free”.
Prosecutors allege that companies owned by Mr Ibori and his family were beneficiaries from the sale of state assets, including shares in a mobile telephone operator, as well as crude oil deliveries.
The Nigerian government and the United Kingdom agreed to work together on his extradition to the United Kingdom. Subsequently, his movement became restricted by the Dubai authority.
The Punch Newspaper reported on 27 May 2010 that Mr Ibori was seeking political asylum in Dubai, while the Compass Newspaper reported on Sunday 5 June 2010 that there were “strong indications that the government of the United Arab Emirates have insisted on trying the former governor in Dubai, according to its laws than either in Nigeria or United Kingdom”.
On 1st and 2 June 2010, UK juries found Mr Ibori’s sister, Christine Ibie-Ibori and his associate, Udoamaka Okoronkwo, guilty on counts of money laundering, in a verdict delivered at the Southwark Crown Court, London.
Mr Ibori, via his media aide released a statement questioning the validity of the verdict which he claimed absolved the two other women, Ms Okoronkwo and Adebimpe Pogoson who were charged alongside his sister.
The jury’s verdict of 2 June 2010 however returned a guilty decision against Ms Okoronkwo as well. Chrstine Ibie-Ibori and Udoamaka Okoronkwo were each sentenced to 5 years in prison on Monday 7 June 2010 by the UK court.
On the 27th of February, Mr Ibori pleaded guilty to 10 counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud at Southwark Crown Court, London, following an inquiry which began in 2005, in association with the EFCC.
Following the guilty plea entered by Mr Ibori, the EFCC plans to bring a case before an Appeal Court to challenge the ruling of a lower court in Asaba, Delta state, which acquitted Mr Ibori of a 170-count corruption charge levelled against him in 2009.