- Ibori May Face 170-count Fraud Charges on Return
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to re-arrest and prosecute a former Governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori, who will complete his sentence in a prison in Britain on December 20, 2016.
Barring last minute changes, Ibori will be arraigned on 170 charges bordering on money laundering and corruption.
A Southwark Crown court had on April 17, 2012, sentenced Ibori to 13 years in prison after the ex-governor pleaded guilty to 10 counts of money laundering and stealing $250m from the treasury.
Following his conviction in the UK, there were criticisms of the Nigerian justice system ,especially an Asaba High Court which had struck out 170 charges which the EFCC had brought against Ibori.
However, the EFCC took the matter to the Appeal Court where a three-man panel of justices on May 15, 2014, at the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal ruled that the ex- governor, who is currently serving a 13-year jail term in a London prison, has a case to answer.
The appellate court panel, led by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, ordered that the case be re-assigned to another judge of the Federal High Court for continuation of trial.
The EFCC subsequently said in a statement in 2014 that the ex-governor would be re-arrested upon the completion of his prison sentence.
The EFCC statement read, “With this judgment, the coast is clear for Ibori to face trial in Nigeria upon the completion of his jail term in London.”
Attempts to speak with the EFCC spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Saturday proved abortive.
However, a source at the EFCC told our correspondent that the legal department of the commission would have to look into the matter again.
He said, “Indeed Ibori still has a case to answer but it will be reviewed and charges might be amended.”
However, legal luminary, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), told our correspondent on the telephone that there was no need prosecuting Ibori again.
Sagay, who spoke in his personal capacity and not as the chairman of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption committee, told our correspondent that Ibori had already been punished and prosecuting him again could amount to human rights abuse.
He said, “It will be constitute double jeopardy because he was been punished according to the law and any attempt to arrest him and make him go through the process a second time will be unconstitutional.
Some of the possessions confiscated from the ex-governor include: a house in Hampstead, North London, worth £2.2m; a property in Shaftesbury, Dorset, for £311,000; a £3.2m mansion in Sandton, near Johannesburg, South Africa; a fleet of armoured Range Rovers valued at £600,000; a £120,000 Bentley Continental GT; and a Mercedes-Benz Maybach 62 bought for €407,000 cash.
When contacted on Saturday, spokesperson for the AGF, Mr. Salihu Isah, told our correspondent that he needed to hear from the minister before he could react.
“It is the AGF that can take such decision, I need to hear from him first,” Isah said.