Ibori’s Appeal: London court adjourns till March 17, ruling won’t delay his return home, says aide
The Southwark Crown Court in London has adjourned hearing in the suit filed by former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, till March 17, this year.
Ibori, who was released from prison on Thursday, had indicated intention to appeal his conviction for money laundering, saying the trial was riddled with corruption.
Ibori stands the risk of forfeiting assets worth about £250 million, if found guilty in the confiscation trial, which began yesterday.
He is appearing before Justice David Tomlinson at the Southwark Crown Court for charges bordering on confiscation of his property.
Ibori was previously sentenced by a United Kingdom’s court to prison for 13 years, after pleading guilty to 10 charges of fraud and money laundering in February 2012.
He has, however, successfully served out that sentencing, having served a year while trial was ongoing, a year beforehand awaiting trial in London and a year in Dubai from where he was extradited to Britain.
During his trial, the former governor confessed to purchasing six foreign properties and a fleet of cars with the stolen funds estimated to be around 200 million pounds.
He has appealed his conviction for money laundering and graft.
Among other things, the court was yesterday told that an investigating Police officer demanded £600,000 bribe to make the matter go away and during the initial trial, the CPS failed to confirm whether any of the investigating officers was under investigation.
In fact they denied, only for it later to emerge that an officer involved with the investigation was indeed under investigation.
Also, the court was informed that an investigating officer received payments of unspecified amounts of money, while in January 2012, prosecution was aware that there was a file containing information that an officer involved with the investigation was indebted to the tune of £40,000 credit card transactions.
It was reported that the court could not fix a date for a confiscation hearing to enable Ibori file his appeal.
Ibori’s Counsel had requested for the adjournment in the hope that the appeal would have been filed before March 17, thereby putting the confiscation hearing on hold.
The former governor told an online medium after the hearing that he looked forward to returning to Nigeria.
On Tuesday, a London court had ruled that he could return to the country; hence he told Reuters that he would return within days.
He was released from British prison in December last year after serving half of his 13-year sentence, taking into account pre-trial detention.
“What happens in African politics- you are in it until you die,” he told Reuters in London 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,” he said after a court hearing, part of ongoing legal proceedings in his case.
His release had led to dancing in the streets in parts of Delta State.
On whether the ruling would delay Ibori’s planned return to Nigeria as soon as possible, his media aide, Mr. Tony Eluemunor said: “No, it won’t delay his return home.
“It is no longer a criminal matter. What he is talking about is how much they should pay him for delaying him a day longer than necessary.”