Former Delta State Governor James Ibori was ordered released from Huntcombe Prison following the failure of a last-minute effort by the UK Homeland Office to keep in prison via a court application.
The former governor will, however, be confined to a flat on Abbey Road, St. John’s Wood area in London, and pending a confiscation hearing scheduled for January. In the meantime, he will visit a police station in Croydon regularly.
Earlier today, Mrs. Justice May of the Royal Court of Justice Court 1 in London ruled that Ibori is released after he completed his money laundering jail term.
His house arrest means he is far from being a free man, and will certainly not be spending the Christmas with his friends and relatives in Nigeria as has been peddled by some of his supporters for months.
Mr. Ibori, a former London store clerk who began a life of stealing and being convicted in that city, wants to return to Nigeria on his own terms but the Homeland Office wants him to be deported. Also, the UK government is pushing for confiscation proceedings on Ibori's illegally acquired properties.
It would be recalled that in 2012, the former Delta State governor admitted 10 counts of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering, and was sent to prison for 13 years by the Southwark Crown Court for fraud totaling about $77m.
Fleeing from the police in Nigeria, he had been captured in Dubai in 2010 and extradited to the UK, where he was prosecuted by the Metropolitan Police.
Several possessions are involved in the confiscation hearings he faces. They include mansions in Dorset, north London, and Sandton, near Johannesburg, as well as luxury cars of all kinds.
Following Ibori’s sentencing, it would be recalled that Sue Patten, who headed the Crown Prosecution Service central fraud unit, said Ibori’s illegally-acquired wealth had been "at the expense of some of the poorest people in the world."
The irony is that many of those people, in Delta State, are now being sensitized to welcome the thief and ex-convict back as a hero of some sort.
In Nigeria, lawyers to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission say Ibori faces further legal challenges if and when he is extradited to Nigeria.