A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division will tomorrow in London hear James Onanefe Ibori's money laundering case. The panel, scheduled to begin sitting at 10:30 a.m., will be led by Justice William Gage and assisted by Justice Dame Staal and Ms. Justice Cox.
Three hours have been set aside for the case, and legal experts predict spirited fireworks between Ibori’s lawyers at Speechys Bircham and lawyers from
the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
The hearing comes in the wake of Ibori's failure last week to sustain a bizarre ex-parte order granted by the Federal High Court in Benin which had barred the EFCC from arresting Ibori and his retinue of former commissioners and political aides accused of massive corruption. Last week, Justice Gloria Okeke, who had issued the controversial sweeping order, ruled that she had no jurisdiction to entertain the case. Her about-turn removed an important hurdle, and cleared the way for Ibori’s arrest and trial.
The issue in contention at the Court of Appeal Criminal division in the UK tomorrow is the fate of Ibori’s worldwide assets estimated at $35 million that were restrained, first by the Southwark Crown Court and later by the Court of Appeal.
Neither the London Metropolitan Police nor the Crown Prosecution Service could be reached to discuss tomorrow’s case. However, a Nigerian source revealed to our reporters that British officer gathered fresh evidence against Ibori during their recent visits to Nigeria. During the investigative trip, the officers spoke to Nigerian government and bank officials in addition to individuals with information on Ibori’s
money laundering activities during his eight-year term as governor.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, will today visit with Umar Yar'adua and leaders of Nigeria's security agencies to discuss
terrorism and corruption. Negroponte, on a mini-tour of Africa, reportedly flew from Cote D'Ivoire to Abuja for the crucial round of meetings.