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- Category: Personality
- Published on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 15:27
- Written by Admin
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James Ibori, former governor of Delta state has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for corruption and money laundering charges at the Southwark Crown Court 9 in London.
His sentence was announced at about 3.20pm today by Judge Anthony Pitts.
Ibori admitted 10 counts of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.
Ibori, who evaded capture in Nigeria after a mob of supporters attacked police, was arrested in Dubai in 2010.
He was extradited to the UK, where he was prosecuted based on evidence from the Metropolitan Police, who estimated he stole $250m (£160m) from state coffers.
On Tuesday, Ibori was brought to court in a white prison van with tinted glass.
Earlier on, his lawyers had tried to make a case for a lenient sentencing. His lawyer, Nicholas Pernell blamed Badrash Gohil and former Akwa Ibom state governor, Victor Attah, for the V-Mobile scam saying they were the architects of the fraud. He further credited his client with every development in Nigeria, and especially in Delta state, from the banking reforms, to peace in the Niger Delta, education, and building of low-cost housing. Also in his defence, he stated that his client, James Ibori, played a part in supporting British industry even before he became governor. As evidence, he cited a letter from British Airways, thanking Ibori for restoring direct flights between Nigeria and Britain.
Also in his defence, veteran sportsman, John Fashanu, made an appearance in the court today. He testified saying the former governor achieved a lot in sports, and was instrumental to the end of militancy in the state. He told the court that Ibori built nine mini-sports stadia and three Olympic-sized stadia in Delta state and also built the first shooting range in Nigeria.
The court went for a recess at about 12.30pm and reconvened at 2.25pm after which his sentence was read.
James Ibori had earlier pleaded guilty to a number of corruption and money laundering charges against him put at about $250million before Judge Pitts. This includes the V-Mobile and Bombardaire scams which amounted to $50million. Ibori and Victor Attah, former Akwa Ibom state governor also formed a phantom company called ADF to siphon US$37.5million from Delta and Akwa Ibom states’ shares in V-Mobile. He was accused of embezzling these funds during his tenure as governor and using most of them to live a lavish lifestyle and acquire property and assets around the world.
Judge Pitts said that the sentencing will not be the end of the matter as his property will also be confiscated.
The Man James Ibori
James Onanefe Ibori, 54 was born to the family of Chief Ukavbe Ibori and Mrs. Comfort Oji Ibori of the Oghara clan in Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State.
He attended Baptist High School (now Oghareki Grammar School) after which he proceeded to the University of Benin where he obtained a Bachelors degree in Economics and Statistics.
After graduation, Ibori was employed as a staff of Mobil Oil Nigeria Limited from where he was seconded to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as one of the pioneer staff of the company’s Marketing Department at the Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company.
He travelled to the UK in the 1980s and worked as a cashier at a Wickes DIY store in Neasden, north west London. He was convicted in 1991 of stealing from the store.
During the Abacha years, Ibori warmed himself into the heart of the Head of State as he served as a consultant to the Federal Government in the areas of public policy formulation and implementation
His Political Life
Ibori’s political journey started in 1990 when he joined the National Republican Convention (NRC). He contested for the Ethiope Federal Constituency seat in the House of Reps but lost. When General Abacha flagged off his transition programme, Ibori pitched his tent with tent with the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM). When the transition however ended abruptly with the demise of the then Head of State, General Abacha, Ibori and some members of the GDM went ahead to form the Delta National Congress (DNC) which later fused into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
On January 9, 1999, James Ibori was elected as Governor of Delta State and four years later, he was re-elected both times on the platform of the PDP.
Ibori’s political life was not all rosy though as his election was challenged in 2003 when it was alleged that he had once been convicted for stealing. Ibori however scaled that hurdle when another James Onanefe Ibori, who claimed to be a tanker driver, surfaced and claimed that he was the James O. Ibori that was convicted.
The Loot That Got Him Into Trouble
Though prosecutors say Ibori’s loot can hardly be quantified, as far back as August 2007, his assets valued at about £ 17 million were frozen by the British Government sequel to allegations of corruption against him. Ibori’s road to prison apparently started with his wife’s arrest at Heathrow Airport on November 1, 2007 in connection with the investigations of corruption against her husband. She was released after a questioning session.
Ibori stunned the world when he appeared on CNN and described the allegations against him as being politically motivated. He did not spare Nuhu Ribadu, the then Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the British Courts the scourge of his tongue as he accused them of playing politics.
Nigerians were surprised by the news of the arrest of Ibori who was known to be one of those who bankrolled the election of the then President, Umar Yar’Adua. The EFCC arrested him on the 12th December, 2007 at the Kwara Government Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja.
Charges of money laundering were filed against him. Malam Nuhu Ribadu further worsened the situation when he alleged that Ibori offered him a cash gift of $ 15 million to drop the case against him.
How He Wriggled Out…
When Ibori was arrested, there had been speculations that he would come out unscathed. Indications started to emerge when his trial started in Kaduna. Whenever he appeared in court, the atmosphere was always like if the session was being held within Ibori’s stronghold. His supporters were willing to do anything, even going naked to press home their demands.
Before long, Ibori got his wishes to have the case transferred to Asaba, Delta State. On December 17, 2009, a High Court sitting in Asaba discharged and acquitted him of 170 counts of money laundering brought against him by the EFCC.
… His Journey To Prison
Ibori’s case was reopened in April 2010 with fresh charges that he misappropriated about $ 266 million. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, the former Governor chose to “dialogue with his feet” and he was simply unavailable whenever an attempt was made to arrest him. His stealth moves saw him leaving Abuja for Lagos unnoticed and from there he slipped into the creeks in Oghara where he was born. On an occasion, the EFCC reportedly came close to arresting him but the firepower of his private guards was more than what the federal agents could bear.
Towards the end of April, news started filtering in that Ibori, who by then had become “Nigeria’s Most Wanted Man” had fled the country.
A twist however emerged in the saga when Ibori was arrested in the United Arab Emirates by INTERPOL based on an international arrest warrant issued by the British Government over money laundering charges. After the arrest, the authorities in the United Kingdom sought his extradition to the UK. The bail granted him by the United Arab Emirates was summarily revoked and he was taken back into custody.
Meanwhile, prior to Ibori’s extradition to the UK, his associates, family members inclusive had been
It further became obvious that Ibori was going down in June, 2010 when his sister, Christine Ibie-Ibori and one of the former Governor’s acquaintances, Udoamaka Okonkwo were found guilty of helping him to launder money and were sentenced to 5 years imprisonment each by the Southwark Crown Court.
Those expecting huge legal fireworks in the Ibori saga were disappointed when Ibori pleaded guilty to 10 counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud before the Southwark Crown Court on 27the February, 2012.