The Oasis Reporters
February 04, 2017
James Ibori, former Governor of Delta state, has appeared before a UK court for his confiscation trial. This was after he had said he’d be back home to be in politics once again, for the benefit of his people of Delta State.
The trial, presided over by David Tomlinson, a justice at Southwark Crown court is to determine if his assets, worth about £100 million, should be seized after serving his jail term.
James Ibori, governor of oil rich Delta State between 1999 and 2007, was sentenced to 13-year jail term in the UK where he was found guilty of money laundering.
He regained freedom in December, after serving 6 1/2 years.
However, Amber Rudd, the home secretary, declared that he would only be deported after handing over “proceeds of crime” which Ibori’s legal team faulted.
Ibori’s lawyers led by Richard Murkin, sought to stop the UK government from detaining him any further saying the government was abusing it’s powers by seeking to detain Ibori on the premise that his assets confiscation case remained undecided.
Despite conviction, Ibori has vowed to remain in the politics of Delta State, having been recently released from a British prison where he served a jail term for corruption.
Mr. Ibori said he would not quit politics until his death.
“What happens in African politics – you are in it until you die,” he told Reuters in London after a court hearing on Tuesday.
“I am a politician, I will always be a politician. I play the politics in my party and in my country for the good of my people.”
Mr. Ibori, however, said he would not contest any elective position again because he had been barred for 10 year because of his conviction.
He gave indication that he would appeal against the conviction.
Mr. Ibori was in court as part of the ongoing legal proceedings in his case.
His freedom in December elicited jubilation and celebration in his political camp, especially in Delta State.
Reuters reported that a video later surfaced on YouTube of Mr. Ibori being feted in London by supporters, including a serving senator who said, to cheers, that the former governor had “made” the careers of several prominent Nigerian politicians while in prison.
According to the news medium, Mr. Ibori declined to state if it was true.
“The prison telephone is meant for keeping in touch….so you can integrate when you come out,” the former governor said.
Reuters reports that the appeal is based on an allegation by an associate of the former governor that a British police officer had taken bribes in return for information on the case before the former governor was convicted and that prosecutors had covered it up.
The police say it investigated the allegation though no arrest was made neither were any charges preferred.
It also reported the state prosecution service as saying that material supporting the allegations exists and it initially failed to disclose that to Mr. Ibori’s defence team, but that it is confident his (Ibori) conviction remains valid.
Mr. Ibori, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, was arraigned in Southwack Crown Court in February 2012, for laundering about $250 million believed to have been stolen from the coffers of Delta State.
He pleaded guilty to a 10-count charge of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.
He was subsequently jailed on April 17, 2012 for 13 years.
While in prison, Mr. Ibori was still remotely dictating the political tune in his native Delta State where his maternal cousin, Emmanuel Uduaghan, had succeeded him as governor in 2007.
Mr. Uduaghan served until 2015.
The current governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, served in the Ibori administration as commissioner before he was elevated to the position of secretary to the state government in the Udughan administration.
Premium / The Will / Reuters