Ibori ‘ll still face trial in Nigeria, says EFCC.

 James Onanefe Ibori (born 4 August 1958) was the Governor of Delta State in Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. He is a member of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP). He was arguably the most vocal advocate for resource nationalism in Nigeria.

Born to the family of late Chief Ukavbe Ibori and Mrs. Comfort Oji Ibori of Otefe in Oghara clan, Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State, he attended Baptist High School, Oghareki, now Oghareki Grammar School, before proceeding to the University of Benin where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and statistics. He started his working career with Mobil Oil Nigeria Limited and was later seconded to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as one of the pioneer staff assembled to develop the marketing department of the corporation's Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company. It was on the platform of the PDP that he contested and won the January 9, 1999 election to become the governor of Delta State.

On December 12, 2007, Ibori was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the Kwara State Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja. The charges he faces include theft of public funds, abuse of office, and money laundering. These corruption charges brought against Ibori by the government of former President Obasanjo are among many begun by anticorruption czar Nuhu Ribadu against former officials of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party PDP

On December 17, 2009, A Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, Delta State, discharged and acquitted Ibori of all 170 charges of corruption brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Due to corruption allegations, a court in the United Kingdom froze his assets there, valued at about £17 million ($35 million), in early August 2007

On the 27th of February 2012, James Ibori pleaded guilty to 10 counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud at Southwark Crown Court.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said ex-Delta State Governor James Ibori will still face trial irrespective of the outcome of his trial at the Southwark Court in London .

The commission said the London case is just a minutest aspect of corruption cases against the ex-governor.

The EFCC, which made the clarifications in a statement by its Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the forthcoming conviction of Ibori by the London Court on April 16, will not lead to the vacation of other cases he has in some courts in Nigeria.

The statement said: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) received with happiness, the news on February 27, 2012 to the effect that the former governor of Delta State , Chief James Onanefe Ibori had pleaded guilty to fraud, stealing and money laundering charges before a Southwark Crown Court in London . This, indeed, is a welcome development which vindicates the Commission’s position ab initio that Ibori had a case to answer.

“The interesting aspect of the development in London is the fact that Ibori chickened out of a full blown fraud and money laundering trial by changing his plea. This was purely a gambit to run away with a lighter sentence, rather than the product of a plea bargain as erroneously reported earlier in sections of the media. For the avoidance doubt, plea bargain is not recognised in UK criminal justice system.

“Sadly, it has taken five years of legal rigmarole and high drama for the former governor to own up to having committed some of the crimes for which Justice Marcel Awokulehin of the Federal High Court, Asaba sensationally acquitted him in December 2009. The Commission challenged the ruling. That appeal is still pending before the Court of Appeal, Benin City , Edo State .

“While the EFCC looks forward to the sentencing of Ibori on April 16, it is however, a matter of concern that it took the intervention of the UK criminal justice system for justice to be served in the Ibori case. While all who worry over the effect of corruption on our nation may celebrate the Ibori guilt plea, we must all spare a thought for our judiciary, which needs urgent reform to ensure that those who loot our treasury do not get away with their loot. In deed, Nigerians must rally in support of the dogged efforts of the incumbent Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher to reform the judiciary for greater efficiency.”

The EFCC assured Nigerians that the law will still take its course on Ibori whenever he is repatriated.

The statement added: “Now that Ibori has owned up to his crime, the Commission is mindful of the concern in some quarters as to what becomes of his case with the EFCC. Will he be arrested and tried again on the completion of his jail term in London? Or, will the EFCC close the Ibori case?

“For the benefit of stakeholders and lovers of justice, it is interesting to note that the offences for which Ibori faces imminent jail term in London is only a minute aspect of the bouquet of offences committed by the former governor during his eight year rule of Delta State .

“The bulk of the criminal charges against the former governor are still before courts in Nigeria and there are no plans to vacate those charges. Moreover, the former governor didn’t steal alone. There were accomplices and as recent as two weeks ago, some persons who allegedly assisted him to launder stolen funds were questioned by the Commission. EFCC is determined to bring all Ibori accomplices to book, no matter how long it takes.

“For now, the Commission awaits the sentencing of Ibori and, more importantly, the repatriation of the funds stolen from the treasury of Delta State government. That will be some just reward to Nigerians for the efforts and resources that have been committed to the corruption and money laundering investigation and trial of Chief James Ibori.”

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This article was first published on 1st March 2012 and updated on March 22nd, 2012 at 12:53 pm

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