James Ibori appeals 2012 fraud conviction

Former governor of Delta state, James Ibori, has challenged his 2012 conviction for fraud at the British court of appeal.

His media assistant, Tony Eluemunor, in a statement said his principal’s lawyer made this known at the Southwark London court on Friday, March 17, during the ongoing asset seizure trial.

The confiscation trial which is presided over by David Tomlinson, is to determine if Ibori’s assets should be seized.

In light of the information, the court indefinitely adjourned the ongoing proceedings on the confiscation case, Eluemunor said.

The UK’s National Crime Agency has investigated alleged evidence of police corruption and claims that the crown prosecution service withheld key evidence in Ibori’s money laundering trial.

Bhadresh Gohil, Ibori’s former lawyer and co-accused, had alerted the authorities of police corruption at the heart of his and Ibori’s investigation and prosecution.

He also claimed that he was unlawfully detained for 33 days between November 20 and December 22, 2015.

Gohil, in July 2016, received £20,000 from the crown prosecution service as compensation for deprivation of his rights.

He was jailed for 10 years in 2010 for helping Ibori launder money.

Ibori was jailed for 13 years in 2012 after he pleaded guilty to laundering money in the United Kingdom.

He returned to Nigeria on February 4, six years after he was arrested in Dubai by Interpol operatives.

Ex-Convict Ibori Is Shinning Light Of Urhobo Nation, Says Archbishop.

President and founder of Christ Missionaries Crusaders Church International Inc., Archbishop Goddowell Avwomakpa, has described Mr. James Ibori, the former Delta State governor convicted of money laundering,  like a shining light of the Urhobo ethnic group.  Avwomakpa, widely çalled “Political Archbishop ” on account of his penchant for drooling over politicians, delivered his verdict on Ibori at First Baptist Church, Oghara, venue of the Delta State government- funded thanksgiving service for Mr. Ibori, who was recently released from a UK jail. Delta State governor and protege to Mr. Ibori, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, approved the sum of N350million for the service and reception.

Archbishop Avwomakpa said Mr. Ibori and first civilian governor of the state, the late Mr. Felix Ibru, remain unsurpassed, regarding achievements,  by any other Urhobo political office holder.  “I termed them the only golden fish in Urhobo land,” said the clergyman.

While urging Mr. Ibori to be a good ambassador of Delta State, Avwomakpa advised the ex-convict to be careful before making his next political move. The Archbishop likened Ibori’s case to that of  Biblical Samson, who was bounded and handed over to the Philistines by same people who cheered and hailed him when he came to their rescue. Avwomakpa advised all political office holders to always identify with the church and the traditional institution.

Responding, Mr. Ibori insisted he was innocent of the charges to which he pleaded guilty and for which he was convicted in the UK.

Speaking largely in Urhobo, he 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, blessed by God and I believe that since the day I was born.”

The former governor claimed that while in prison, he missed the people of the state, adding that his return to the country was made possible by their support and solidarity.

“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.

“Urhobo adage says it is in the river that changes clothes. It’s in the river I changed my cloth. When I looked how things were going, I discovered that they want to separate me from you people,” Mr. Ibori said.

Governor  Okowa was, however, conspicuous by his absence from the service. It was learnt that he shunned the event, following stinging criticism of the N350 million he approved to welcome Mr. Ibori.

Opinion: An Ex-Convict and A People Without Shame – By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

Shame on all of you who set bad examples by taking advantage of your status and or position. Ibori has not answered for the crimes he committed in Nigeria. He must be made to answer. Ibori should be arrested. Nigeria must make an example of its anointed thieves or nothing will change.

What is shame? Shame is a painful emotion caused by the consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. It is doing something that brings censure or reproach. Shame is a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute. Shame arises when we compare our behaviour with the ideal social standard. That is why shame is based on self-regard and volition. When we draw comparisons that makes us feel shame, it is against existing standards that are primarily enabled by socialisation. Even though shame is often considered an emotion, it is also a state, a condition, cognition and an affect based on philosophical and psychological considerations.

Upon deep reflection and introspection, I wrote here a few weeks ago that what truncated Nigeria’s path to greatness was the systemic corrosion and erosion of values. It is shameful that Nigeria has lost its moral compass. Actions that would have brought enormous shame to an individual, and his family, in the 1960s and 1970s are accepted as normal these days. We no longer have a sense of wrongdoing. There is a general acceptance of shamelessness in our day to day living. Oh! How Nigeria has changed! In today’s Nigeria, men and women commit crimes eagerly, aggressively, arrogantly and with impunity without a sense of shame! The collective behaviour, attitude and reasoning has become twisted and accepting of a corrupt way of life. People commit crimes without fear because they are convinced that they are authorities unto themselves. There is no hesitation in committing crimes or engaging in disgraceful conduct because they have no fear of being unaccountable. We live in society where the conscience no longer condemns, where the law no longer forbids, where choices are made on the basis of individual appetites, instead of acceptable standards of behaviour.

The Nigerian society has lost its shame, from top to bottom. That is why a Director of the State Security Service will meet up with an ex-convict to celebrate his return. That is why jubilant crowds welcomed an ex-governor who is a convicted felon back home from prison as if he had just won a Nobel Prize, without a sense of propriety or shame. Someone with astonishing temerity even compared the just released ex-convict to Jesus Christ! What a shame! What a people! What a nation! Many years ago, our people avoided shame as if it were leprosy. A suspension or expulsion from school brought shame to the family and our fathers meted out punishments that fit the crime and in proportion to the shame brought on the family. It is a different ball game now. Students belong to cults, they cheat in exams with the help of their parents, take drugs and engage in institutionalised prostitution. No one is alarmed because they have seen their elders do worse things. For long, authority figures recruits students and the youth to source girls for their orgies. They use them to fight political opponents and train them for a life in the service of the criminal enterprise. All these are commonplace and hardly worth a second look on the headlines. Nothing shocks us anymore.

…a people or a culture without shame cannot stand. Nigeria’s shameless trajectory is a path to hell. No nation subsists this way. We must repudiate the Iboris in our midst. We must find our bearing and get back on track. The choice is simple and it is ours to make. We either find our way or we are lost.

James Onanefe Ibori was a governor. He cheated, lied, stole and embarrassed himself to the applause of his people. General Murtala Mohammed wiped out a whole generation in the civil service for an infinitesimal portion of what Ibori did. In the 1960s and 1970s, these actions would have caused Ibori to go quietly into the sunset and no one would have given him excuses. Oyenusi faced the firing squad for stealing next to nothing compared to Ibori. The distinction was in the choice of weapon; Oyenusi used the gun, Ibori used the pen. When we elevate and celebrate the Iboris, we not only denigrate ourselves, we stink up the present and destroy the future.

When did the rain start beating us? Some have traced it to the military. Well, government officials bear the responsibility for enabling and encouraging the degradation of our moral fabric. For too long, they showed no respect for uprightness and decency. Immediately the oil boom began, they started promoting lifestyles that are hedonistic and inherently perverse without any sense of responsibility for their constitutional obligation to uphold basic standards of virtue. From the mid-70s up till date, gradations of perversity percolated our individual and collective psyche such that we embrace, promote, and defend that which is bad and counter-morality. We took it further by demonising those who seek to uphold, guard and encourage good behaviour. From the level of looting in this nation and how we celebrate our thieves, oppressors and tormentors, disgrace no longer exists because nothing is disgraceful anymore. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes, not what is right by the law.

I heard he was a model inmate but I saw no remorse in him when he exited the prisons. I expected him to enter Oghara quietly and issue a trite and penitent statement as a way to jumpstart his self-rehabilitation. He did none of these. Instead, he was smiling for the cameras, clenching his fists at times and waving at other times.

When you do the crime, you do the time. Ibori did his time for his crimes in the United Kingdom. I heard he was a model inmate but I saw no remorse in him when he exited the prisons. I expected him to enter Oghara quietly and issue a trite and penitent statement as a way to jumpstart his self-rehabilitation. He did none of these. Instead, he was smiling for the cameras, clenching his fists at times and waving at other times. Shame on Ibori, shame on those who hailed him and shame on all who have raped this country. Shame on all of you who set bad examples by taking advantage of your status and or position. Ibori has not answered for the crimes he committed in Nigeria. He must be made to answer. Ibori should be arrested. Nigeria must make an example of its anointed thieves or nothing will change.

Finally and for the record, a people or a culture without shame cannot stand. Nigeria’s shameless trajectory is a path to hell. No nation subsists this way. We must repudiate the Iboris in our midst. We must find our bearing and get back on track. The choice is simple and it is ours to make. We either find our way or we are lost.

 

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for the PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo

GUARDIAN: Released from UK jail, Ibori plots next move.

James Ibori reputedly wielded influence in his native Nigeria even from his British prison cell, where he was serving a 13-year sentence for money laundering and fraud.

With the 57-year-old now back on home soil, few doubt he will remain an important player in the cut-throat world of Nigerian politics — even behind the scenes — as elections approach in two years.

The former governor of Delta state in the oil-rich south, who used looted public funds to buy luxury homes, top-of-the-range cars and a private jet, has said that African politicians never retire.

But in a strong hint Ibori was eyeing some political role, just as parties begin jostling for position for the 2019 vote, Amori said his former boss was a political “godfather and kingmaker”.

“No politician worth his calling can take Ibori’s endorsement for granted. He will forever remain relevant in national affairs,” he added.

– ‘Personal sacrifice’ –
Ibori, a former cashier at a British chain of DIY stores, was jailed in April 2012 for fraud amounting to nearly 50 million pounds (at the time $78.5 million, 62 million euros).

The trial judge and police, however, believe he misappropriated much more.

His conviction in Britain followed a drawn-out extradition procedure from Dubai, where he fled in 2010, and his evasion of arrest and prosecution in Nigeria.

The case was seen as a landmark in the fight against high-level international corruption, with billions of pounds of illicit cash said to be channelled through Britain every year.

Ibori was released in December after serving just over four years of his sentence and launched an appeal against his conviction, angering anti-corruption campaigners.

Being a convicted criminal would spell the end of a politician’s career in many places around the world.

But not in Nigeria, where power is widely seen as an end in itself, patronage is everything and claims of corruption and conflict of interest are rarely a bar to high office.

As such, Ibori’s status remains undiminished in the eyes of his Delta kinsmen, who Amori said kept in constant touch with him during his incarceration.

“His prison ordeal was a personal sacrifice he had to make as a leader,” he added.

Posters and giant billboards hailing the former governor sprung up throughout his hometown of Oghara and his return on Saturday was met with singing and dancing.

“We are excited that our leader, mentor and son is now a free man. Ibori was a victim of political persecution and media trial,” said community leader Chief Emmanuel Ighomena.

“The people of Oghara and indeed the entire Urhobo race are happy to accord him a hero’s welcome.

“Ibori was instrumental to the rapid transformation of Oghara during his tenure. We are showing our gratitude by giving him a befitting reception.”

– Case to answer? –
Ibori’s patronage spread far and wide: in 2007, he was said to have used state funds to bankroll the presidential campaign of Umaru Yar’Adua.

On leaving office after eight years in 2007, he ensured Emmanuel Uduaghan, his cousin, succeeded him. Uduaghan had previously been his health commissioner and government secretary.

From jail, he was said to have hand-picked Ifeanyi Okowa to succeed Uduaghan in 2015 and a string of other local lawmakers.

Okowa was said to have dispatched senior aides to visit Ibori in London as “a mark of solidarity and loyalty” after his release and is organising a reception in the state capital, Asaba.

Political analysts said it was no surprise successive Delta state governments have not accused Ibori of looting but it was unclear whether he can be actively involved in politics again.

It is also unclear whether President Muhammadu Buhari’s government will pursue him in the courts, as part of his quest to clean up Nigerian politics.

Not to do so would run counter to Buhari’s pledge that it was no longer “business as usual” for the corrupt.

But Dapo Thomas, a political science lecturer at Lagos state university, said it was “against the principle of natural justice to be punished twice for the same offence”.

“Ibori has been punished in London. He cannot be tried again in Nigeria for a similar offence,” he added.

Constitutional lawyer and civil rights activist Femi Falana pointed out that Ibori was being prosecuted in Nigeria before he fled the country and there was “no doubt he has a case to answer”.

“The appeal court in Asaba has quashed Ibori’s acquittal by a high court which he is yet to vacate,” he added.

“Ibori remains banned (from political office) until he is granted a presidential pardon.”

 

Source: Guardian

“I am not on Twitter”, Ibori denies owning a Twitter account.

James Ibori, former governor of Delta state, who returned to the country on Saturday, after serving a jail term in the UK, has denied joining Twitter.

 

Tony Eluemunor, spokesman of the Nigerian politician, disclosed this in a statement.

 

The denial is coming two days after the account @chiefibori was opened in his name.

 

The profile on @chiefibori read: “Politician, Former Governor of Delta State (1999-2007), Dad, Philanthropist and Business man.”

 

At exactly 8:08am, the handle released its first tweet: Good morning Nigerians#myfirstTweet.

 

The next tweet, at 9:32am, read: “I’m excited to reunite with my people. The strength of any politician lies in hands of his followers.”

 

A video of the rapturous welcome he received in his home town, Oghara, in Delta state, on Saturday evening, was also embedded.

 

Shortly after, there was a third tweet: “The energy yesterday was electrifying and intimidating. I’m grateful.”

 

As of 3:06pm, the account had 216 followers – while following nobody yet.

 

But many Twitter users trolled him instantly.

 

One wrote: “Delete your account”.

 

There are insinuations that the account is being disowned because of the torrent of trolling he has been receiving.

James Ibori appears in UK court, may lose 250m pound assets.

Former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, is currently appearing before a Southwark Crown Court in the United Kingdom, UK.

 

Ibori is standing trial before the Justice David Tomlinson court over confiscation of assets.

 

The Delta-born politician, if found guilty, may likely forfeit his assets worth 250 million pounds.

 

Ibori was on April 17, 2012 sentenced by the court to prison after he pleaded guilty to 10 counts of money laundering and stealing $250m.

 

The former governor was recently released after serving his sentence, had few days ago promised to return to Nigeria soon.

 

Source: Daily Post

James Ibori and a nation united by corruption – By Chido Onumah

One of the highlights of the year that has just ended was the release from a British jail of one of Nigeria’s most notorious politically exposed persons (PEPs), James Onanefe Ibori. Ibori’s rap sheet is as long as the 338km East-West Road in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, but the reason for his latest freedom was the conviction and sentencing—13 years in prison—by a Southwark Crown Court in April 2012 after he pleaded guilty to a 10-count charge of money laundering, corruption and conspiracy to defraud.

Of course, it wasn’t Ibori’s release that dominated the news, as newsy as his expected release was. Rather, it was his triumphant return to the warm embrace of his kinsmen, supporters and well-wishers. James Onanefe Ibori or James Onanefe Ochuko Ibori, depending on if you are appearing before the Supreme Court of Nigeria, is an enigma. He was governor of Delta State from 1999-2007. He and his bosom friend, Bukola Saraki, Nigeria’s current senate president, bankrolled the political machine that led to the emergence of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as president in 2007. And if not for providence—the death of Yar’Adua in May 2010—Ibori, who up until then was the de facto vice president of Nigeria, would have succeeded Yar’Adua.

Yar’Adua died and Nigeria dodged a bullet or so we thought! Ibori was subsequently jailed in 2012, two years after he was arrested—and extradited to the UK—by the Interpol in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where he was hiding after fleeing Nigeria. Even in prison, he maintained his godfather role and from the public admission of one of his surrogates played a key role not only in the emergence of high-ranking public officers in Delta State but the leadership of the National Assembly. For the trajectory of the Ibori saga and persona, readers will find this piece, “The welcome party for Ibori” by Simon Kolawole, instructive.

Depending on where you come from, perhaps your political affiliation and how much you benefitted from the Ibori heist in Delta State, either directly or through a third party or even tangentially as a hanger-on, the celebratory Mass held in honour of Ibori’s release from prison, though detestable, was quite understandable. After all, there is an Ibori in many of us. There are countless Iboris in the National Assembly, criminals making laws and posing as “distinguished senators” and “honourable members”. There are Ibori’s in various government houses across the country; scoundrels posing as executive governors. There are Iboris in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Customs, Immigration, Prisons, Police, our universities and sundry public institutions where those who have been kept in charge of what Peter Ekeh in his seminal essay, “Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement”, referred to as “civic public” conveniently and unconscionably steal from it and divert their loot to the “primordial public”.

That is the sorry state of Nigeria. And it explains the Ibori conundrum. According to Ekeh, “A good citizen of the primordial public gives out and asks for nothing in return; a lucky citizen of the civic public gains from the civic public but enjoys escaping giving anything in return whenever he can. But such a lucky man would not be a good man were he to channel all his lucky gains to his private purse. He will only continue to be a good man if he channels part of the largesse from the civic public to the primordial public. That is the logic of the dialectics. The unwritten law of the dialectics is that it is legitimate to rob the civic public in order to strengthen the primordial public.”

So, just as it is often the case where one person’s freedom fighter is another person’s militant, as a people, Nigerians seem not to be in agreement on what constitutes corruption or who a corrupt person is. What one Nigerian sees as corruption, another sees it as “blessing from God”, their own opportunity or “turn to eat”. The national cake is there for the taking. The state has abdicated its responsibilities—roads, water, school, health, sanitation, etc—and instinctively we have learned to “manage” by helping ourselves to as much as the national pottage, in the “civic public”, as we can lay our hands on.

Take the ongoing spat between the current Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and his predecessor, Solomon Arase, who has been accused of making away with over 20 police vehicles when he retired in June 2016. Arase didn’t deny carting away police vehicles. He is just piqued that when it was his “turn to eat”, the police authorities suddenly became amnesic. To show his righteous anger on an issue that has caused public discomfiture, Mr. Arase’s reminded the all-righteous police authorities that there is nothing new in Inspectors General of Police making away with enough vehicles to open a car shop when they retire.

“I expect that former occupants of the office of the Inspector-General of Police should not be demeaned. This explains why Force Order 295 was emplaced by the force management under my leadership as acknowledged in your letter in reference,” Arase wrote to his predecessor in his defence. “In spite of the emplacement of this order and despite the fact that my two immediate predecessors left office with 13 and nine vehicles of different makes and models respectively, I never pressurised either of them to return any of such vehicles neither did I engage in any act that was capable of bringing them to ridicule as being done to me of late by a force I dedicated my life to serving up to the highest level.”

Clearly, pubic office in Nigeria is simply a sinecure and you would be eternally excoriated by your kinsmen and associates for not taking advantage of a life-changing opportunity.  As someone once reminded me, public office in Nigeria is like climbing a mighty tree with lots of fruit. Once you climb, you are required to get as much as you can because you may not have a second chance. So, we are all, ceaselessly, engaged in the race of getting a nibble at the cake. To appreciate the Ibori phenomenon, you must understand Nigeria. Here, the best private schools, including universities, are owned by those whose responsibility has included how to make our public schools functional. It is the same story for the health, transport, and indeed, every sector of the Nigerian society.

It is as if Nigerians, wherever we find ourselves in the “civic public”, are in a race for a medal on how best to pillage the country. The “Villa Repair Heist”, as someone has described it, provides a fitting example of this brazen larceny that is called public service in Nigeria. The 2016 budget for repairs and rehabilitation of Nigeria’s Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, was N642.5 million.

By 2017, the budget had shot up to N5.6 billion. “Was the Villa hit by a bomb or earthquake unbeknownst to us citizens?” “Was there a war akin to Aleppo in the place?” one commentator asked. No, there wasn’t. It is simply “their time to eat.” In the same budget, there is a provision of N2.3billion for the Defence Headquarters to clear backlog of electricity bills that is budgeted for every year.

In July 2012, I was part of an audience at Chatham House, London, where an ex-governor of Niger State and Chair of the Northern States Governors Forum, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, was guest speaker. Dr. Aliyu spoke on “Nigeria’s Unity and Regional Socio-Political Groups: Influence and Impact of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF).” He noted that “corruption was the single unifying factor of the elite in Nigeria and that the way to deal with it was to reduce the focus on the centre.” Aliyu is right in many ways. But it is not just the elite. It is about Nigeria.

Today, if someone is robbed, we no longer get jolted. The refrain will be, “Thank God he is alive.” “We praise God the robbers took his possession and spared his life.” “God bless those robbers.” It is the same response you get when kidnappers strike. We no longer bother to interrogate armed robbery, kidnapping and other vices that have become part of our national ethos.

The celebration of Ibori’s return from prison, therefore, provides an opportunity to interrogate what Nigeria means to us as Nigerians. The problem is not really with Ibori or those who have elected to celebrate him. The problem is with Nigeria, a place where allegiance is to the “primordial public”, where rulers live in mansions and religious centres luxuriate in splendor while public schools and hospitals wallow is squalor.

Onumah is the author of We Are All Biafrans. Contact him on conumah@hotmail.com; Follow him on Twitter: @conumah

INVESTIGATION: How Ibori received N250m from Delta government. in UK prison.

Former Governor of Delta, James Ibori was paid N250m by the state government while he was in jail in the United Kingdom between 2012 and 2016, an investigation has revealed.

The investigation revealed that the said amount was part of the entitlement due an ex-governor of the state.

According to the Delta State Governor and Deputy Governor Pension Rights and Other Benefits Law 2005 which was later amended in 2009, an ex-governor is entitled to the sum of N50m per year.

In 2012, the then Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chike Ohgeah, who defended the payment, said Ibori would continue to be paid N50m until a court nullified his tenure in office.
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.”
Speaking on Saturday, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said pension for ex-governors should be scrapped.
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.”
Chief Press Secretary to the Delta State governor, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said on Saturday that the state will not breach the law by refusing to pay Ibori his entitlements.
“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.’’
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.

Retrospect: How a thief (James Ibori) almost became Nigeria President – By Andrew Walker

The story of how James Ibori went from convicted thief in London in the 1990s, to become governor of a wealthy oil-producing Nigerian state and then to a British prison is a remarkable one.

It is the story of a wily political operator, backing the right political horses and shifting allegiances when expedient.

Given slightly different circumstances, according to one observer, it could have seen Ibori in the presidential villa rather than a British jail cell.

Ibori’s defence in the face of allegations had always been that he had a successful business career and had made money independent of government.

But in 1991, he was working in a hardware store in the London suburb of Neasden.

The prosecution in this trial told a judge he was earning around £15,000 ($24,000) a year.

He was caught by his employer allowing his wife to walk through the till he was manning without paying for goods.

They both pleaded guilty at Isleworth Crown Court and were fined.

In 1992, he was convicted for possession of a stolen credit card, which had £1,000 spent on it, and was again fined in a UK court.

‘Murky business’

Ibori then returned to Nigeria intending to become a political operator. The country was about to be tipped into a tumultuous period.

Military leader Ibrahim Babangida had scheduled elections to return Nigeria to democracy in June 1993.

James Ibori: The story so far

Ibori worked for the governorship campaign of a friend.

The experience gave him good connections with the parties that would eventually merge to form the People’s Democratic Party, currently ruling Nigeria.

The 1993 elections were cancelled by Mr Babangida. Later that year, Gen Sani Abacha staged a coup, cementing the military’s grip on power for another five years.

According to Antony Goldman, who worked as a journalist in Nigeria for many years and has followed Ibori’s career closely, this is when Ibori made his first shift of political master, offering his services to Abacha.

“He had an unspecified role in security,” Mr Goldman said. “That could be anything, it was a very murky business.”

Abacha was accused of murdering political opponents and ruthlessly crushing dissent and pro-democracy movements.

In the mid-1990s, Ibori was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in the US about how he came into the possession of millions of dollars that he transferred to accounts in the US.

The FBI suspected the money came from advance fee fraud, the infamous Nigerian 419 scam, but he was able to prove the money came from his work with Abacha, Mr Goldman said.

Abacha died in 1998 and Ibori switched horses again, attaching himself to influential northern politician Atiku Abubakar, who went on to become vice-president.

Medically impossible

In 1999, Ibori took out a mortgage on a property in Abbey Road, London.

To do that, he got a new passport with a false birth date to mask his previous convictions.

The birth date he chose was in fact medically impossible as it was only a month after his sister’s birthday, the prosecution told the court.

Ibori was installed as the governor of the oil-rich Delta State in the 1999 elections.

In order to take office in Nigeria, he had to swear an affidavit that he had no convictions. To do this, he used the same birth date he had made up to acquire his mortgage.

It was this evidence that would, in a London court 14 years later, spell the end for Ibori.

Soon after he became governor, Ibori paid off the Abbey Road mortgage in cash.

He went on to buy three other properties in the UK. He paid £2.2 million in cash for a house in the plush London suburb of Hampstead.

‘Bankrolled election’

In 2005 the Metropolitan Police began to take an interest in Ibori after they came across a purchase order for a private jet, made through his solicitor in London.

It was just after this that Ibori shifted horses again, switching his allegiance from Mr Abubakar to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In 2006, President Obasanjo recruited Ibori to help him force through a change in the constitution to allow him to run for a third term as president.

When that plan failed, Ibori promised his allegiance to Mr Obasanjo’s anointed successor, Umaru Yar’Adua.

At the ruling party’s pre-election convention in 2006, Ibori was on hand to lift up the northern governor’s hands in a display of victory – hours before delegates from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) voted to select him as their candidate.

Ibori is then accused of bankrolling the 2007 Yar’Adua election campaign, although this has been denied.

Mr Goldman says he understands Ibori was promised the vice-president’s job, in return for his support.

But Mr Yar’Adua, who had been ill for many years, died in office.

His Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan succeeded him and remains Nigeria’s president.

Despite being a fellow former governor of a neighbouring oil state, Ibori and Mr Jonathan were by now political enemies.

In 2010, President Jonathan set the country’s anti-corruption police, the Economic and Financial Crimes commission on him, but their officers were ambushed when they came to arrest him.

Ibori left Nigeria shortly afterwards.

He went to Dubai, whose government arrested him and transferred him to the UK to face trial.

Mr Goldman says had Yar’Adua lived, and made Ibori his vice-president, he would have had a clear run to become president.

“Then Mr Ibori would have met Queen Elizabeth at the state house, instead of serving at her pleasure,” Mr Goldman said.

We’re happy our son, Ibori, is freed after jail term — Delta government

Delta State Government says it has no case with former governor and convicted fraudster, James Ibori, and is very happy he has been released from the London prison.

The State Commissioner for Information, Patrick Ukah, stated this in Asaba while responding to questions after briefing journalists of the decisions at the last State Executive Council meeting for the year.

Mr. Ibori was on Wednesday released from prison after completing his sentence for fraud in a London prison.

According to Mr. Ukah, the close associate of the former governor and all those who knew him and loved him expressed joy at his release.

“We are all very happy that our son, our brother, former governor has been released. So, it is a thing of joy and the only expression as a state is that we are happy.

“I think for everybody, who has a personal relationship with him, will be very happy and I think that as a state we don’t have issues with our former governor and he is somebody that everybody loved,” he said.

He said at the last meeting, the state government had approved the award of more roads contracts and assured that ongoing roads construction would get a boost in April next year.

He said the roads approved for constructions and repairs include the construction of Abraka Township road in Ethiope East Local Government Area of the state and Owa Alero-Ute Okpu road in Ika North East LGA.

Other are the construction of Agrarian community roads cutting across Issele-Uku, Onicha-Uku, Ugbodo, Okumnzu, Obumkpa-Idumogo Road in Aniocha LGA and the rehabilitation of Ozoro-Oleh Road in Isoko North and South LGAs.

Also, the construction of Burutu Township road in Burutu LGA, rehabilitation of Charles Street in Agbor, Ika South LGA among others.

The commissioner said that the Ughelli-Afizere roads construction about 8.5 kilometres road would be completed by April next year.

“Also on the roads construction in Okpanam, the contractor had gone on break and to resume work Jan. 5, and with the mandate to connect the drains. Work will run and receive appreciable impact before April, 2017,” he said.

UK demands £18m from Ibori before he can return to Nigeria

James Onanefe Ibori, former Delta state governor, who was released from a UK prison yesterday, is still facing two obstacles before he can return to Nigeria.

He must face a deportation hearing and then also pay £18 million to the UK government as the “proceeds of crime.”

The unresolved issues almost elongated Ibori’s incarceration, until a high court judge gave an order he should be released and that attempts to detain him were “quite extraordinary.”

Ordering Ibori to be immediately freed from prison, Mrs Justice May 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 subjected to strict curfew conditions was also rejected.

The judge accepted arguments that the home secretary was attempting to misuse her immigration and deportation powers.

Ibori, a former London store cashier, was jailed for fraud totalling nearly £50 million in April 2012.

He evaded capture in Nigeria after a mob of supporters attacked police but was arrested in Dubai in 2010 and extradited to the UK, where he was prosecuted based on evidence from the Metropolitan Police.

On Wednesday, the Home Office’s barrister said the government was concerned that Ibori might “frustrate confiscation proceedings” and wanted him kept in jail or subjected to strict controls on his movement.

But it emerged in court that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which is pursuing the confiscation proceedings, was “neutral” about Ibori’s release and possible deportation.

Ian MacDonald, QC, representing Ibori, said: “The Secretary of State has taken it upon herself. There is no objection from (the CPS) for release.

“This is extraordinary”, Mrs Justice May said. They (the CPS) don’t care.

“Why doesn’t the Secretary of State just send him back?” she asked. “He wants to go. She wants him to go.”

The conviction of James Ibori followed a government anti-corruption campaign led by the Department for International Development (DfID) 10 years ago.

In court on Wednesday, Ibori’s barrister, Ivan Krolic, explained how another defendant in the fraud case had appealed against conviction on the grounds that “police officers in the investigations had been corrupt.”

“The Court of Appeal rejected that after counsel for the Crown indicated that there was nothing to support the allegation”, Mr Krolic explained.

Ordering Ibori’s release, Justice May said: “The Secretary of State appears to have taken it upon herself that 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 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.”

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

Meanwhile, in Ibori’s hometown of Oghara, in Delta state, residents were eager to receive him back home.

Nigerians condemn celebration of Ibori’s release.

Some Nigerians on Thursday expressed displeasure with the celebration of the release of James Ibori, a former Delta Governor, from a prison in London. They said in Lagos that such celebration was condemnable, unfortunate and uncalled for.
The former governor of Delta was on Wednesday released from prison in London, U.K. Ibori was jailed in 2012, two years after he was arrested by the Interpol in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where he was hiding after fleeing Nigeria. Ibori after his release from prison in the United Kingdom He was sentenced to 13 years in prison by Southwark Crown Court on April 17, 2012 after pleading guilty to 10-count charge of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.
In spite of his guilty plea and conviction for corruption, his kinsmen at Oghara and other Urhobo communities in the Delta, however, turned the affair to a carnival as they lined up major streets dancing. There was wild jubilation in Delta following the news of the release of the former governor.
A retired teacher, Mr Augustine, said it was unfortunate that some Nigerians celebrated criminals and those who contributed to the bad situation of the country. “It’s a shame that we are celebrating those who had contributed the increased unemployment rate in the country, lack of healthcare services, dwindling standard of education and failed democracy among other challenges. “Until we start to change our ways and mindset, we will continue to wallow in our problems in the nation,’’ Igwe said.
In his views, Mr Sesan Adeleye, a businessman, said such jubilation showed that politicians had successfully brainwashed some citizens with ill-gotten wealth. “The problem of some Nigerians is a clear case of poverty of the mind. We value wealth so much.
They are not even bothered about why he went to prison. “They are already waiting for him to come back so that he can continue to distribute ill-gotten money to them. “They don’t even care that the money stolen was meant for their welfare and development,’’ he said.
Also, Dr Edewede Iyamu, a private physician, told NAN that the celebration over Ibori’s release was uncalled for as he also contributed to the pervasively poor and under developed state of the Niger Delta. “Those from Niger Delta continue to blame the Federal Government for the challenges confronting their region, whereas, people like Ibori should be held responsible. “It is sad that people from that region are now celebrating him,’’ she said.
A Lagos-based legal practitioner, Mr Adekunle Aribisala, said something must be done to stop the celebration of criminality in the country as it was becoming rampant. Aribisala also expressed worry that it would not be easy for the Western community to release the money in question — 18 million Pounds — to the Nigerian government. “We had the same situation when Chief Bode George and Mr Hamza Al-Mustapha were released too, now it’s Ibori.
I feel really ashamed as a Nigerian. “We do not need people like that in our society any longer. They need to be isolated so they don’t corrupt more people,’’ he said. In her opinion, Alhaja Aishe Jelil, a civil servant, said the future of the youth who were being used by politicians called for concern. “We seem to have lost our values in this society, I wonder what the future holds for our future generations.
They are celebrating Ibori because they consider him a hero and a role mode,’’ she said.

James Ibori to be deported to Nigeria in January 2017.

Although James Ibori, former governor of Delta state, has been released from prison in the UK, he is not likely to return to the country until January.

He was released on Tuesday, having agreed to be deported after serving half of his 13-year prison sentence.

But Amber Rudd, the home secretary, does not intend to deport Ibori to Nigeria until he hands over £18 million of “proceeds of crime”, according to reports.

A high court judge said attempts to detain him were “quite extraordinary.”

Ordering Ibori to be immediately freed from prison, May 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 subjected to strict curfew conditions was also rejected.

The judge accepted arguments that the home secretary was attempting to misuse her immigration and deportation powers.

On Wednesday, the home office’s barrister said the government was concerned that Ibori might “frustrate confiscation proceedings” and wanted him kept in jail or subjected to strict controls on his movement.

Tony Eluemunor, media aide to Ibori, accused some unnamed top people in the UK of trying to stop his release.

In a statement on Wednesday, Eluemunor said instead of releasing Ibori on December 20, British home office wanted him to be detained on the grounds that his confiscation hearing had not been concluded.

“The apparent decision to block Ibori’s release and detain him appears 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 statement read.

“In a curious move, the British Home Office, instead of releasing Ibori on December 20, informed him that he would be detained on the grounds that his confiscation hearing had not been concluded.

“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.”

He said Sian Davies, the prosecution lawyer did not object to Ibori’s release and his return to Nigeria but at the last minute the Home Office stepped in.

“There is clear discord between the two arms of the British government,” he said.

“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.

“Ibori and others have long maintained that this prosecution was politically motivated. It was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, DFID.”

The conviction of Ibori followed a government anti-corruption campaign led by DfID 10 years ago.

Oghara, the hometown of the famous politician, has been agog over his release.

A source close to Ibori, who remained a political force in Delta throughout his years of travail, said it was not comprehensible whether Ibori would fly to Nigeria.

Ibori ruled Delta from 1999 to 2007. He was one of the most influential governors during his time and he established a political dynasty that produced his successor, Emmanuel Uduaghan and the incumbent Ifeanyi Okowa.

Despite the legal entanglements and the prospect of Ibori taking his case to the court of appeal, the mood among his kinsmen and politicians in the state, especially Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faithful is that he should return.

Oghara is wearing a new look with banners bearing pictures of the ex-governor strategically displayed at different roundabouts within the town.

Associates and loyalists are also catching up on the event to pledge their loyalty to Ibori as they adorn the banners with their pictures side by side the former governor.

Some of the banners, which were placed at the Market Roundabout, Ibori Roundabout and entrance of Oghara, have inscriptions such as: ‘Welcome back home, our national leader’, ‘The political messiah and his kinsmen’, ‘The resource control living legend’,  and ‘His ordeal, God’s plan to fortify him’.

Former DESOPADEC commissioner representing Ethiope West, Sapele and Okpe, Henry Ofa, told Vanguard: “Without trying to be immodest, the world knows that there is great expectation in Oghara.

“Since he left, there had been lots of misgivings and backwardness in the area in the hope that when he arrives, so many things would change positively.”

“We are prepared to follow him and we are convinced that he is going to lead us to the Promised Land.”

“We have the belief that there is a plan for him by God,” Ofa, a key loyalist said.

“Ribadu’s Excesses, Not Me, Removed Him From Office” – James Ibori

Chief James Onanefe Ibori has asked journalists to stop maligning him almost on daily basis. Ibori made this in a statement of Sunday signed Tony Eluemunor, Head of Ibori’s Media Office.

He said that Ibori has particularly condemned the bare-faced lies, that some journalists and news organizations, have continued to heap against him.

What makes it galling is that the matter under contention was the Department of State Security’s report that stopped the Senate from confirming Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and did not warrant the dragging in of Ibori’s name at all.

Yet, the online publication went wild all the same, making baseless accusations against Ibori, though it had said it was checking the facts in DSS’ allegations.

Specifically, on “ALLEGATION ONE: That during the tenure of Farida Waziri as EFCC chairperson, sensitive documents were found in Mr. Magu’s home”, the online newspaper wrote: “The facts do not support that claim. A reporter for this newspaper extensively reported that event in 2008 when it happened, and is familiar with what transpired at the time”.
Chief James Onanefe Ibori

Ibori is not concerned with the fact that the publication chose not to cross-check the facts but rested on answers a journalist got almost a decade ago, and he did not say how he acquired that information, no, that is left with readers to worry about. What Ibori finds irresponsible is what follows:

“Based on pressure from political gladiators of the period (among which were former Governors James Ibori and Bukola Saraki), then President Musa Yar’Adua unceremoniously removed Nuhu Ribadu as chairman of the EFCC”.

Mr. Nasir el-Rufai has exposed this claim as a terrible lie. In his book, The Accidental Public Servant”, he stated the source of the trouble he and Ribadu had with the late President Umar Yar’Adua. On page 358, in a section entitled “Umaru Asks Nuhu for Support: the Beginning of Our Trouble” he wrote that Ribadu was so maddened that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had favoured Yar’Adua above Nasir-el-Rufai to succeed him as President in 2007 that he told Yar’Adua to his face:” Well, Obasanjo has not told me, and as far as the presidency is concerned, I have my candidate for president, and that is El-Rufai.

El-Rufai continued on page 359: “It took sometime before Nuhu figured out Obasanjo’s games and what was really happening. Nuhu’s instinctive reaction was that of a typical policeman – dust of EFCC’s files and comb for petitions against Umaru. Nuhu did not realize it at that time, but he was the one in trouble not Obasanjo or Umaru. He dusted off all the files against Umaru and launched investigations. He was clearly trying to take Yar’Adua out of the race and narrow all options to zero except for El-Rufai”

Ibori continued: “It is clear that from El-Rufai’s that there was no way a clear-headed Yar-Adua would have appointed a power-drunken Ribadu, who had unjustly arrested some Katsina state’s LGA chairmen just to demonise Yar’Adua to remain as EFCC Chairman – to continue to arrest people unjustly, play politics with his office and hypocritically claim to be fighting corruption when he was neck deep in the worst corruption – maligning others just because of politics.

So, Ibori has advised Nigerian journalists to try and give Nigerians a decent picture of events because the nation’s future would rest on that.

In another Development, Ibori has called on his well-wishers to disregard reports about when he will return to Nigeria. A newspaper wrote at the weekend: “Ibori would on December 23 arrive in a chartered jet via Heathrow Airport, London to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, where family members, friends and close associates are expected to receive him in a red carpet reception before jetting to Osubi Airstrips, near Warri, from where his convoy would take off for his Oghara hometown for another grand reception”.

Ibori has asked the public to disregard such wrong information. An earlier report had said Ibori would return on an Arik Air flight. When the time comes any important information will be made available to the public and nothing would be left for conjecture.

Not Yet Over: British Home Office Clarifies James Ibori’s Release From Prison.

The British Home Office, speaking on today’s developments on the James Ibori case, clarified on Wednesday evening that all foreign national offenders given a custodial sentence are normally considered for deportation.

 

The boisterous former Delta State governor is hoping to return to Nigeria on his own terms when his United Kingdom troubles are supposedly over. That would enable him to put on a show of some sort among his supporters, and perhaps negotiate a deal with the current government in the country.

 

In a brief statement, Press Officer Richard Mellor declined to comment on ongoing legal proceedings, describing that as “inappropriate.” He, however, pointed out that where offenders are released by an Immigration Judge, the Office procedurally seeks the most stringent bail conditions while it continues to pursue their removal from the UK.

 

The Royal of Justice Court in London today ruled that the former Delta State governor be released following the completion of his conviction on money-laundering charges.

 

He is, however, to be restricted to flat on Abbey Road in the St. John’s Wood area of London, pending removal proceedings and a confiscation hearing scheduled to begin next month. in the meantime, Mr. Ibori is required to report to a police station in Croydon and will be considered an absconder and tagged with an electronic bracelet if he fails to do so.

UPDATE: James Ibori Released Into House Arrest In London

Former Delta State Governor James Ibori was ordered released from Huntcombe Prison following the failure of a last-minute effort by the UK Homeland Office to keep in prison via a court application.

The former governor will, however, be confined to a flat on Abbey Road, St. John’s Wood area in London, and pending a confiscation hearing scheduled for January. In the meantime, he will visit a police station in Croydon regularly.

Earlier today, Mrs. Justice May of the Royal Court of Justice Court 1 in London ruled that Ibori is released after he completed his money laundering jail term.

His house arrest means he is far from being a free man, and will certainly not be spending the Christmas with his friends and relatives in Nigeria as has been peddled by some of his supporters for months.

Mr. Ibori, a former London store clerk who began a life of stealing and being convicted in that city, wants to return to Nigeria on his own terms but the Homeland Office wants him to be deported. Also, the UK government is pushing for confiscation proceedings on Ibori’s illegally acquired properties.

It would be recalled that in 2012, the former Delta State governor admitted 10 counts of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering, and was sent to prison for 13 years by the Southwark Crown Court for fraud totaling about $77m.

Fleeing from the police in Nigeria, he had been captured in Dubai in 2010 and extradited to the UK, where he was prosecuted by the Metropolitan Police.

Several possessions are involved in the confiscation hearings he faces.  They include mansions in Dorset, north London, and Sandton, near Johannesburg, as well as luxury cars of all kinds.

Following Ibori’s sentencing, it would be recalled that Sue Patten, who headed the Crown Prosecution Service central fraud unit, said Ibori’s illegally-acquired wealth had been “at the expense of some of the poorest people in the world.”

The irony is that many of those people, in Delta State, are now being sensitized to welcome the thief and ex-convict back as a hero of some sort.

In Nigeria, lawyers to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission say Ibori faces further legal challenges if and when he is extradited to Nigeria.

BREAKING: James Ibori released from UK prison.

Former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori has been released from prison in the United Kingdom, Vanguard reports.

 

Ibori was reportedly released some minutes after noon following a Court order.

 

Tony Elumenor, his media aide confirmed his release.

 

Ibori was sentenced to 13 years in prison by a United Kingdom court.

 

Details later…

James Ibori’s December 20 Homecoming Collapses As His Confiscation Hearing Begins

James Onanefe Ibori, the former Delta State governor who became the international symbol of Nigerian corruption when he was tried and jailed in the United Kingdom in 2012, will not be home for Christmas at the weekend, or anytime soon, contrary to rumors.

A former commissioner in Mr. Ibori’s administration, Ighoyota Amori, had created the euphoria among Ibori’s followers that his former principal will be home for the Xmas from his jail cell in England.

Mr. Amori first made the claim on September 25 in a speech in Ibori’s hometown of Oghara, Ethiope West local government area of the state, during the 50th birthday celebration of the former Commissioner for Transport, Ben Igbakpa.

“Our leader, Chief James Onanefe Ibori will soon return to Oghara,” he bragged repeatedly, asking for prayers for their hero.  “Chief James Onanefe Ibori will spend this year’s Christmas with us here. His coming is as certain as death. We will all gather to give him a wonderful reception here in Oghara. And our lives will begin again once he returns to the country.”

But Mr. Amori assurances were as fraudulent as Ibori’s bank balances.  Just three days ago, Mr. Ibori’s spokesperson Tony Eluemunor issued a statement asking the public to disregard any talk of Ibori returning home anytime soon.

SaharaReporters reliably gathered that hopes of Mr. Ibori’s release had been based on the grievous miscalculation that his lawyer’s claim of corruption by some UK policemen involved in his investigation, as well as the prosecution team’s dissolution would magically result in his early freedom.  The judge handling his case has however insisted that the confiscation hearing aimed at determining if Ibori hid any of his assets from the UK authorities would go ahead.

That hearing, not shameless Christmas parties in Delta State paid for with dubious funds, is all that Mr. Ibori could look forward to this week, as it was scheduled to begin yesterday December 19, and may last till the middle of 2017.

Based on Mr. Amori’s baseless declarations, however, a chain of events was unleashed in Delta State as the government, members of the People Democratic Party, the people of Oghara, and some other elated Deltans began to prepare to welcome him home today, December 20, a date that became widely publicized.

SaharaReporters reliably learned that at various political and social gatherings, Amori repeatedly publicized this date for Ibori’s homecoming, with the local media whipped into a frenzy about it.

Following Amori predictions, the people of Oghara, embarked on cleaning up and beautifying the community with Ibori posters all over the place.

Equally thrilled, SaharaReporters learned that state governor. Ifeanyi Okowa released over one billion Naira ‘sfor the renovation of Ibori country home and for road constructions, among other things.

FG Targets N150bn Abacha, Ibori Loots

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, on Tuesday, disclosed plans by the Federal Government to engage acclaimed consultants in its bid to recover another $750m looted and stashed away by a former Head of State, the late Gen. Sani Abacha.

 

 

He stated that another £6.9m loot, held by a former Governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori, would also be recovered.

 

 

The minister, who spoke on the government’s plans when he met with the House of Representatives Committee on Justice, added that the country’s judgment debts stood at N75bn.

 

 

The federal government will appoint a foreign lawyer in its effort to recover a total of N150 billion stashed abroad by late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha and former Delta state governor, James Ibori.

 
Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami announced this in Abuja yesterday while testifying before the House of Representatives committee on Justice.

 

 
He said the money was made up N148. Billion ($750 million) allegedly laundered by Abacha and N1. 98 billion (£6.9 million) by Ibori.

 
Malami said the government would “engage in an aggressive policy” to seek the cooperation of foreign governments to “ensure the repatriation of illicitly-acquired assets.”

 

 

According to him, “The collaboration will equally involve the engagement of foreign-based counsel to attend to the matters on behalf of the Federal Government.

 

 
“Low-hanging fruits being targeted in this initiative include $750m of the ‘Abacha Loot’ as well as the sum of GBP6.9m of the ‘Ibori loot.’”

 
The ministry would be in the position to coordinate the recovery of billions of dollars in foreign jurisdictions based on current estimations, he said.

 
Late Abacha, who ruled Nigeria between 1993 and 1998, allegedly laundered about $5 billion abroad, according to Transparency International.

 
Liechtenstein agreed to return $227 million in June 2014, while the U.S. froze some $458m hidden by Abacha in bank accounts. Switzerland had in the past returned about $700 million and promised to return another $380m.

 

 

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in August, 2014, that it would repatriate about $480 million to Nigeria.

 

 
Part of the returned funds budgeted for purchase of arms was allegedly diverted by top officials of the immediate past administration, which resulted in the ongoing arms probe, involving former National Security Adviser (NSA) Rtd Col Sambo Dasuki and top military officers.

 

 
Some European countries like Britain have now set conditions for the return of stolen funds to Nigeria.

 
As for former Delta State governor, Ibori, (1999 to 2007), who is currently serving a jail term in the United Kingdom for money laundering, he is said to have helped himself with public funds to the tune of over £30 million among others.

 

 
Only last week, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the return of stolen Nigerian funds moved to that county.

 
He said, the ministry would rely on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 (ACJA) and the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2013 to ensure expeditious prosecution of those accused of terrorism.

 

 
He said based on the criminal justice law, the ministry had so far recovered 8,000 files from the Nigeria Police to be prosecuted by the ministry’s in-house lawyers.

 
He added that the ministry was currently processing about 800 terrorism cases for prosecution, saying the funds required for the successful prosecution of the cases as well as the general coordination of the criminal justice sector “were fully captured” in the ministry’s budget proposal.

 
He said the ministry would remain committed to the promotion and defence of constitutional values and principles in governance.

 

 
On the ministry’s 2016 budget proposal, he said the ministry needed an additional N960.888 million for harmonization of salaries of state counsel in order to bring them relatively at par with their counterparts in states’ ministries of justice and other institutions within the justice sector.

 

 
To this end, he said, provision of N300,000 was made as annual ‘robe allowance’ to each state counsel in line with practice.

 

 

Credit: Daily Trust