Ibori Capitulates At UK Trial, Faces Up To 10 Years In Jail

By SaharaReporters, New York

 Former Governor James Onanefe Ibori of Delta State today entered a guilty plea at his money laundering trial at a Southwark Crown Court in London, the UK.

Our correspondent described the former governor as looking pensive, distracted and subdued as he entered his plea. A Nigerian activist visiting London and who witnessed today’s court session added, “I could not believe that the morose man who stood in court today is the same James Ibori that paraded Abuja as a ‘PDP elder.’”

Mr. Ibori’s admission of guilt closed the chapter on arguably the most dramatic judicial and political saga involving a Nigerian public official in recent years. Today’s development came as a stunning finale to one of the most phenomenal money laundering and fraud cases spanning seven years of an intensive manhunt. That drama ended as the once powerful former governor, who loved to be flattered with his flamboyant nickname of Ogidigbodigbo of Africa, avoided an exhaustive and revealing trial by deciding to admit to his massive money laundering activities during his two-term run as governor.

A source with the Crown Prosecution Services in the UK told SaharaReporters that, with today’s plea, Mr. Ibori faces up to 10 years in a UK prison at his sentencing. The former governor will be sentenced after the completion of the trial of his accomplice and financial advisor, Elias Preko, a Ghanaian national. The Southwark Crown Court has set aside April 16 and 17 for the sentencing of the embattled ex-governor.

For Mr. Ibori, a graduate of the University of Benin, today’s admission of guilt closed out a circle of a life of crime. That career as a criminal began with petty thefts in the early 1990s when the erstwhile governor resided in London as a poor immigrant who lived in a subsidized council flat. His crime spree then developed into a full-blown, full-fledged and big-time career in money laundering and other complex financial shenanigans during his years as governor of one of Nigeria’s richest oil-producing states.

Diplomatic sources as well as international crime investigators believe that Mr. Ibori stole close to $3 billion from the coffers of Delta State. Over the years, SaharaReporters chronicled Mr. Ibori’s life in crime, beginning with our exposure of the details of the former governor’s early small-time crimes in the early 1990s when he and his then girlfriend and future wife, Theresa Nkoyo, began stealing building materials at a Wikes shop in London where Theresa worked. A UK court tried and fined him for burglary and possession of stolen credit cards.

Ibori returned to Nigeria during the regime of dreaded dictator Sani Abacha. In Nigeria, Mr. Ibori took up his life of crime, spearheading the looting a building construction site in Abuja. Then, after craftily changing his date of birth, Mr. Ibori was recruited by Mr. Abacha’s chief security officer, Al Mustapha, whose involvement in the regime’s network of criminal activities recently earned him a death sentence for the assassination of Kudirat Abiola, wife of then president-elect M.K.O. Abiola. Security sources told SaharaReporters that Mr. Ibori became a deadly member of Mr. Abacha’s extensive machinery of repression that included killer squads that went after leading opponents of the regime. Mr. Ibori is believed to have led the group of assassins that killed Alfred Rewane, a prominent businessman and financier of pro-democracy groups opposed to Mr. Abacha.

As Nigeria returned to some form of democracy in the post-Abacha era, Mr. Ibori was able to parlay the monumental wealth he accumulated from the dictator’s regime into remaking himself as a political star in the corrupt conclave of Nigerian politics, pitching his tent with the most corrupt of all the parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Successfully covering up his conviction for stealing building materials in Abuja as well as his petty crime convictions in the UK, Mr. Ibori sought and won the mandate of the PDP as the party’s governorship candidate in 1999.

Once elected as governor of one of Nigeria’s richest states in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, Mr. Ibori began looting the treasury of the state with the aid of his wife, a mistress, his younger sister, well-heeled lawyers in London, and his cousin, Emmanuel Uduaghan, who was crowned gubernatorial successor before Ibori ran out of luck. By the time Ibori was done with the treasury of Delta State, he had become one of the richest Nigerians, owning an airline company, using criminal schemes to buy over the national fertilizer company, acquiring mansions in different parts of Nigeria as well as choice real estate in London, the United Arab Emirate, and the U.S.

Also, by the end of his reign as governor, Mr. Ibori was so politically powerful and financially rich that he almost singlehandedly financed the presidential campaign of deceased Nigerian ruler Umaru Yar’Adua, helping to spearhead the rigging that swept the man into the Nigerian presidency. 

A grateful Yar’Adua shielded Mr. Ibori from any serious prosecution for corruption. On his part, Mr. Ibori had used massive cash gifts to top members of Nigeria’s judiciary, including Supreme Court justices Niki Tobi, Alfa Belgore and Aloysius Katsina-Alu, to cultivate an extremely cozy relationship with critical players in the nation’s judiciary. With many senior judges on his payroll, he found it easy to manipulate the judiciary. When opposition opponents accused him of being convicted for the theft of building materials, Mr. Ibori easily slipped away. Despite glaring evidence that he was involved in business scams, corruption and stealing, Nigerian judges, from the magistrate level all the way to the Supreme Court, thwarted the course of justice and let Ibori walk free. Several judges ruled that he was not the same James Onanefe Ibori named in the conviction.

Famously known as the “Sheikh,” Mr. Ibori became the darling of hustlers and a man that seemed larger than life, inspiring fear in many of his critics in Delta State. Many politicians and Nigerians regarded Ibori as possessing power over life and death. He had bankers at his beck and call and he had his own newspaper. As governor, he was reputed to have a killer squad to snuff life out of his opponents. He famously summoned former Inspector General of Police Mike Okiro to his country home. On one occasion, during his detention on money laundering charges, former IG Okiro sent the only functioning police helicopter to ferry him from Kaduna Prison to Abuja because he complained of headache.

A Nigerian police officer named Nuhu Ribadu, who served as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was to become Ibori’s major nemesis. In 2005, Mr. Ribadu began coordinating a series of local and international investigations against Mr. Ibori. The investigation was tagged “Operation Tureen.” 

The investigators looked at several transactions undertaken by Mr. Ibori using a web of sophisticated methods and schemes that involved banks, bureaus de change, multinational corporations as well as a U.S.-based equity firm to launder funds looted from Delta State. The Proceeds of Crime Unit at the London Metropolitan Police played a critical role in the extensive investigation which culminated in an asset freeze order that targeted some $35 million traced to Mr. Ibori. The asset freeze order revealed that Mr. Ibori was about to take delivery of a Bombardier jet from Canada. The delivery had been delayed only because Mr. Ibori demanded that an I-Pod jack be installed on each seat on the plane.

The asset freeze order suffered a temporary setback when Mr. Ibori deployed a team of high-powered lawyers in London to roll it back. Even so, a determined team of UK police officers and lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Services led by Sasha Wass, would not relent. Instead, they widened their dragnet to take down Mr. Ibori’s sister, Christine Ibie-Ibori, his girlfriend, Udoamaka Okoronkwo (nee Onuigbo), his wife Theresa Nkoyo-Ibori, and one of his London-based lawyers, Bhadresh Gohil. 

Despite the crumbling of his money laundering machinery in the UK, Mr. Ibori’s was waxing politically stronger in Nigeria. In one demonstration of his invincibility in Nigeria, he insisted that former President Yar’Adua remove Mr. Ribadu from chairmanship of the EFCC and also dismantle the top leadership of the anti-corruption agency. Subjected to constant humiliation after his removal from the EFCC, Mr. Ribadu was ultimately hounded into exile. With the consent of an ailing President Yar’Adua, Mr. Ibori also installed Farida Waziri as head of the EFCC. He also had the then attorney general of the federal, Michael Aondoakaa, to do his bidding. SaharaReporters exposed the fact that Mr. Aondoakaa wrote several letters to Mr. Ibori’s defense team in London claiming that the Nigerian government had found no evidence of corruption on the part of the former governor. Mr. Aondoakaa also sought to prohibit U.K. prosecutors from using any evidence provided by Mr. Ribadu’s EFCC in the prosecution of Mr. Ibori’s associates undergoing money laundering trials in London. 

In another sign of his untouchable status in Nigeria, Mr. Ibori engineered to have his money laundering trial transferred to the Delta State capital of Asaba in a hastily assembled, brand new federal high court. The court sat in a house bought from one of the former governor’s political associates. Mr. Ibori was allowed to choose Justice Marcel Awokulehin, a notoriously corrupt judge, to preside over his charade of a trial. He also chose his prosecutor, a man who in court made a habit of agreeing with any motion that Mr. Ibori’s defense lawyers made. In an outcome that SaharaReporters predicted, the 170 counts of money laundering in Nigeria were made to collapse, with Justice Awokulehin, who received a bribe of $5 million, proclaiming Mr. Ibori’s innocence.

With questions still cast over Mr. Ibori’s trial in Nigeria, his alma mater, the University of Benin, hastily organized a founder’s day lecture to project him as a hero. The former governor also made a round of the Nigeria media to insist on his innocence and to deny that he ever offered Mr. Ribadu a bribe of $15 million in order to stave off prosecution.

As soon as Yar’Adua died in 2010, the political calculation changed. The tide turned against Mr. Ibori as then acting President Goodluck Jonathan ramped up political pressure against Mr. Ibori who, as one of the closest confidants of the late ruler, had often ridiculed Mr. Jonathan and prevented him from becoming acting president even as it was clear that Mr. Yar’Adua was incapacitated in a Saudi hospital.

To thwart a feeble attempt made to re-arrest him, Mr. Ibori fled to Dubai. However, his run was short-lived when an international dragnet by the UK police caught up with him. UK authorities filed an extradition request in Dubai to snag up the fugitive former governor, wanted in the UK to answer to the use of financial institutions in that country to engage in money laundering.

Mr. Ibori’s relentless fight in a Dubai court to return to Nigeria instead failed. He was eventually flown to the UK in 2010 where he remained in custody till today’s guilty plea. From his UK detention, Mr. Ibori had coordinated and launched a deceptive media campaign. Mr. Ibori’s associates funded some Nigerian-owned blogs that alleged, among other things, that UK police investigators had accepted bribes from his associates; that the prosecution’s case against him was weak; and even that the prosecution was on the verge of abandoning their case.

A source close to Mr. Ibori told SaharaReporters that the former governor’s well-funded propaganda collapsed last week when his well-paid attorneys told him he had a bad case. Feeling utterly, Mr. Ibori came to terms with the fact that he could not maneuver his way out of the legal logjam as he was able to do in his fake Nigerian trial.

A UK-based lawyer told SaharaReporters that, in pleading guilty today, Mr. Ibori hoped to avoid receiving the maximum sentence for his crimes. Even so, the source suggested that the former governor should expect a sentence in the range of 10-12 years.

But that could be only the beginning of his troubles as the London Metropolitan police plan to go after his assets all over the world. A source with the Met told SaharaReporters that Mr. Ibori’s recovered loot would be returned to the people of Delta State.

The UK court has fixed August 20 to consider matters relating to Mr. Ibori’s asset forfeiture.

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ibori d big thief

I ave gone through all d comment about ibori,am a pure delta lady.one of my broda really side sometihing dat touched me and is d rite tin he talked about.we ave more criminals than ibori dat shld b convicted,I plead wit America govt to do some thing about it.I can't plead wit nig govt bcos d criminals r d govt.we all knw d criminals.it is well

God thank u 4 punishing ibori

The bible says the evil that me do live after the the one time odidigborigbo of Africa has gotten his wages of stealing delta state money and their right to vote 4 their choice if nigeria judiciary fails ogboru and deltans God will not, just the same road that ibori took 4rm nobody to powerful dreaded rich influencial politician to jail that is the same road uduaghan will follow because the cry of deltans had reached God. All hail uk judiciary and dam naija judiciary


I Won to help You

Ibori and cohorts:May you go in prison alive and leave dead!.

This ruling indeed shows the whole world that Nigeria judiciary is a sham! No one, inside or outside Nigeria will now have regards for Nigeria judiciary. I hope Nigeria judiciary begin a house cleansing to save their face/image. To Ibori and cohorts, if there was a poll among the people of his state whom he cheated..i believe the wish will be for him to die in british prison, because people who bring poverty on millions of people are not fit to live. So I say May you not live long there!
A lesson for all the heartless, wicked political opportunists that denies the people the right to enjoy basic amenities while they steal to live fraudulent lives.

it will be nice if we will

it will be nice if we will to
gether as one nigeria, and
fight a good fight, feshing out the bad eggs, among the good ones in order for our country nigeria to move forward. Let us not abore corruption for any reason but push it away.

justice finally, but

"you can fool some people most of the time, but you can not fool or better put, buy all the people, all of the time". As a Detlan born person and an alumus of the university of benin, i pray this man perish in UK prision for all the pain he cause the people of Delta state. My fear now, is the last part of this writeup where it is said or implied, that the stolen money will be returned to Delta State, please no no no, not with the present administration there!!! The people of Delta state will not see or benefit from it. So what? i dont know, either they hold it in trust till a more trust worthy leadership comes in place, or the money be distributed among the health institutions, universities or better put, paid directly to improve electricity and roads. It is a shame, that a country so blessed, could be so rotten by endemic corruptions, and yet many more are still in the business of amassing illegal wealth on the back of the citizens!

Odaefi Emmanuel is a compound Fool

First and formost stop parading your title on the net.Who cares if you are Engr. or doctor. Here in the wester world we do not worship Titles.You hardly see one address himself\ herself as an Engineer or Doctor unless you are asked.You are there Parading your
Nigeria degree on line, Eighty percent handout twenty percent this and that.

You are the same people with Ibori and you will follow suit soon.What has he done for Delta state.
Nothing,Ibori went as far as borrowing money on the name of Delta state.He desever life jail , GO and hit your head on the wall.thief like you.

Most people in this country

Most people in this country has sold their consciences to Money, hope we all learn from Ibori's case that we may not always be able to have our way.

For Ibori, I hope the verse of the Bible that says 'what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul' makes good meaning to him now. I wish him well in his new state as he finds out what it truly means to be deprived of one's right.

To the other political thieves in this country who will not repent, I say, it's only a matter of time, nemesis will catch up with all of you.

To the good people of Nigeria, let us all join hands together and fight corruption in this country. At every point in time, let us be honest and transparent as much as possible.

May God help Nigeria and Nigerians. AMEN.

Big time fools

Its an obvious fact that our leaders are fools afterall. They suck. Ibori is only an icon of the rest of them. Weaker institutions in the country make these men stronger than the laws of the land.

Now, they carry their luck too far, too soon. And the lessons stir the rest on their faces. Yet this would not stop those in their process to stop they must get to the end of the road like Ibori. I wish Chief Gani Fawehinmi has lived to this day and re-echo to our shameless supereme court who brought us this final disgrace. Because if his earlier charges were nipped in the bud then. Ibori would not bring us this nation disgrace of the highest order.

i agree with you

Yes i agree with you what Ibori did for Delta state nobody has ever done for Delta state the guy is J̲̥̅̊u̶̲̥̅̊s̶̲̥̅̊t̲̥̅̊ being picked on and its not fair i personally applaud him

It has to start somewhere

Selective - yes, but everyother thief has his day of judgement. Now it is for Ibori. Others one way or the other will get their turn. Whether it is selective is not the issue, the question is "is he guilty" and the answer is "YES". That is all.

a reply to comrade igbini Emanuel

Mehn puck you comrade igbini emmanuel watever you call yur self...you are a fool and u should be arrested for that statement or perhaps u are among the people who supported his theft...you beach! Low life human been av you forgotten Vanity upon Vanity? How come you R this stupid? UK please sentence him by death ==> Ibori thief

Asfar am concern all our

Asfar am concern all our leaders in 9ja are all theifs this one u people are saying a thief almost become president what is our brother Jonathan doing today?if na only me I for say make them live the man alone ibori have tried he did well in delta state

a reply to comrade igbini Emanuel

Mehn puck you comrade igbini emmanuel watever you call yur self...you are a fool and u should be arrested for that statement or perhaps u are among the people who supported his theft...you beach! Low life human been av you forgotten Vanity upon Vanity? How come you R this stupid? UK please sentence him by death ==> Ibori thief

@comrade you be fool!

Mehn puck you comrade igbini emmanuel watever you call yur self...you are a fool and u should be arrested for that statement or perhaps u are among the people who supported his theft...you beach! Low life human been av you forgotten Vanity upon Vanity? How come you
R this stupid? UK please sentence him by death ==> Ibori thief

Look igbo man, what is

Look igbo man, what is problem with wazzub on this site. If u don't have anything to say rather than trade wazzub, u 'd better drop and goto hell. What makes u even think we may use

continue 3

Another reason why Ibori cannot escape the dragnet was for destroying EFCC, that the european union and America invested in, for a common thief to dstroy like that. I know Ibori will get out of jail by 2015 when he will be eligible for parole and couple with the fact that he was sobre and pleaded guilty having spent almost 2 years in costody, but efcc should still continue with the appeal in Nigeria so that he wont be able to play any role in 2015 election.


I happened to be close to some of his defence team and i learnt from them since last year that they were looking for bargain where he will get the less possible prison sentence.Now that he has pleaded guilty should nigeria constitution not learn some clues from the trial of this criminal. There are some matter arising during the trial that needs urgent review in the constitution. Any nigeria who had had criminal conviction for fraud, murder or any other serious offence anywhere in the world should not be allowed to hold any position of authority in nigeria. AS this was argued in the court and i learnt that this was mentioned in nigeria constitution in a one line sentence and did not speculate whether in nigeria or anywhere in the world

Beyond Iboris guilty plea

I knew it will come to this that Ibori cannot avoid jail even if he recruited Lucifer from hell to his defence. There are two reasons, the first is that all his family member were already waiting for him in prison( all the evidence used to convict them were still intact) and secondly the soul of Afred Rewane, the 78years old NADECO, chieftain that was murdered by Abacha using Ibori and his agent can not rest in peace until all those that had one thing or the other in his untimely death get one form of justice or the other in this life.The 1m dollars America seized and later release 60% back to Ibori was the proceed of the assassination of Rewane.


my friend, why dont u just shut up if u have nothing better to write about. The Man pleaded guilty to stealing over 35million pounds. Convert that to naira and state d rubbish u claim he did for his pple. there are other corrupt leaders, thats true, but its no excuse from celebrating the work of the UK police for catching this thief... a thief that is unfortunately celebrated by some insane pple in Nigeria like u!

What of Uduaghan

One reason Ibori was able to get away with so much is the active support of the Nigerian press. We are witnessing the same thing even here in SA where only one line was devoted to mententioning Uduaghan...Ibori cousin and right hand man entrusted with a cover up is in charge even now and non of the news stories is mentioning him.

Selective Justice is The same as injustice

Nigeria has gain independence for over 50 years now, of the various head state non have done half of what he Ibori did in delta state, Nigeria would have been a better place to live in.

How come he Ibori is the only criminal in Nigeria after over 50 years of independence. Where are the greater thief that make our Great nation go back in time after independence. Why is it that it is the only strong man from that part of the country that is been make a scape goat.

As much as I appreciate the action of the Uk Givernment on this mater in conjunction with all party involved, I trust their action as a sincer one if they go after the likes of ibb, obj, and all the other ex head of states and governors that have assets oversea that are proceed of corruption. Until this is done I will see these bodies as political tools been used against selected individual.


You absolutely have the right to post under any name,but I also have the right to detect and expose people who use multiple names to confuse opinions.
Secondly,$250.000.000 is a big deal,it will build many hospitals and schools in the Niger delta,it will certainly remind the remaining thieves in government that no condition is permanent,Ibori is a confirmed Niger delta thief,so the amount of thieves in the delta has reduced by one.

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On Ibori..

Ibori would have been sentence to 2weeks in prison if he would have been sentence in by the Nigeria Judiciary.
Check http://usaveone.blogspot.com/

Delay return assets

After making prouncement on the stolen assets of this cogenital thief, James Ibori, the return of the assets to Delta state should be delayed until his accomplice and cousin, Emmanuel Uduaghan has served out his term as governor of Delta state. Uduaghan will simply receive the assets and hand them back to the rogue.
Also considering his level of stealing and the attendant crimes, Ibori should serve a minimum of 12 years in the UK jail.
Like the biblical story of the tax collector,Zacheus, Uduaghan and co should consider repentance and restitution or their lot may be worse.

Let us know your asset before the appointment

You this young man or whatever you call yourself, it is expected of you to say this after all you a director of an agency under Uguaghan. You amaze me with this self righteous attitude of yours. You were jobless before your appointment, no property or properties, you have never worked in a government establishment where your credibility could be judged. You did not even have a dime to print posters, you were once insulting the Uduaghan government that the development on the ground is a far cry compared to the money accrued to the state. Where is your so called credibility? Let us know your asset before the appointment so that at the end of your stay there in the agency we will be able to judge you and send you to efcc for questioning. This arrogant pride of yours like Like saying I am the first to saa the doctor when you are not even sick.

small time they will link it to tribe

Imagine all the atrocities caused by only one man ...still we will see some disgruntled fool that will link everything to tribe ....like one stupid fool that said the yorubas are the one stealing nation wealth...all the people involved in this ibori matter ...are they all yorubas....from andoaka the ghanian and the rest....ewwwwww doomed country

Ibori should be hanged

How I wish all this thing happen to him in a country of no nonsense like china ....imagine all that billions and our stupid judiciary said he have no case to answer....what a wuruwuru country....shame shame shame ...on our leader and the judiciary ....I expect andooaka to be in jail rightnow

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