Wednesday, 11 December 2013
James Ibori, Flamboyant Governor, Frontline Looter and Presidential Power-Broker, Gets 13 Years in UK Prison!
Pronouncing the sentence, Judge Anthony Pitts said, I recognizes that there is another side to the man James Ibori but I am not the proper person to judge your achievements and failings as a governor, that is up to the people of Delta state"
He described Ibori life of corruption, “the history of dishonesty, corruption and theft in the first indictment would alone attract the maximum or close to the maximum sentence allowed by law, but there is another indictment of serious fraud which you have plead guilty to”. He said if Ibori had fought the case to the end without pleading guilty he would be looking at 24 years but will get a discount for pleading guilty.
Judge Pitts then sentenced Ibori to 13 years in prison. He deducts 645 days already spent in jail, and says Ibori would serve the rest in British jail. That means Mr. Ibori will be in prison for at least 7 years.
Previous trials of Ibori’s money-laundering associates and facilitators in the same courts had also dispatched to prison in the United Kingdom for at least five years Theresa Nkoyo, the thieving governor’s wife and former First Lady of Delta State; Ibori's sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie; his mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo-Onuigbo; and one of his London lawyers, Mr. Bhadresh Gohil. In his mitigation plea, defence lawyer Nicholas Purnell, yesterday and today emptied a lot of the blame for the former governor’s crimes against the people of Delta State upon Mr. Gohil.
Ibori had previously been “tried” in Nigeria, in a flawed and dangerous process in the Delta State capital, Asaba, in which he was practically allowed by the government of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, whom he had sponsored to the presidency, to choose his trial format and outcome. He was acquitted of all of the 170 charges he faced, and Ibori flew out of Asaba to the University of Benin in nearby Edo State—where he graduated with a Third Class--to give a Founders’ Day lecture.
The conviction of Ibori comes one day after Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, failed to win an effort to become President of the World Bank. That returns her to Nigeria and turns the focus back on the chaos that continues to be inflicted on the cause of Nigeria’s development by corrupt forces such as Mr. Ibori, many of them within the ruling People’s Democratic Party.
Before leaving for Washington to the World Bank interview, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala was a prominent face at the party’s national convention, where the party’s manipulation methods and refusal to stick to the rules were again fully on display in the selection of party chairman. The former World Bank Managing Director speaks in generalizations about reform but has yet to address the deep malfeasance that is all around her within the government and the ruling party, and which remains at the heart of the country’s failure to develop. Not only does today’s conviction of Ibori abroad constitute a major embarrassment to Nigeria, it draws attention to the many Iboris within the country’s economy, most of whom are untouchable.
Even with the conclusion of the Ibori trial in the UK, there are still other people, Nigerians and foreigners, who have related legal matters, especially the laundering of proceeds of V-Mobile shares.
They include the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Victor Attah—who, like Ibori of old—has found a way to cocoon himself from the law. Others are Love Ojakovo, a former commissioner of finance to Ibori; Henry Imashekka and David Edevbie, a former Political Secretary to late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
All of those men are either on the run, although they are often hiding in the open in Nigeria, or untouchable.
Ibori’s conviction is a major legal and public relations triumph for the British government, but the cost will be borne by the Nigeria, because it will be deducted from the funds that Ibori tried to launder in that country. For the people of Delta State, it will be a second loss after what Ibori did to them in the first place.
It is also important to remember that before leaving office, Ibori ensured that he was succeeded by a relative of his, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.