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Ibori's associates lose appeal: trial begins tomorrow!

February 16, 2010
{joomplu:589}{joomplu:584}{joomplu:589}It was another heavy legal punch in the face in London today for James Ibori,  the thieving former governor of Delta State, as his associates lost further appeals before the Royal Courts of Justice (Court of Appeal) in a last-ditch effort to avoid being tried for their money-laundering offences. 
They had appealed the ruling of Judge Christopher Harding of the Southwark Crown Court which was to begin criminal trial of three associates of Ibori today.

Ibori's high priced lawyers went to the Court of Appeal to contest the ruling by Judge Harding which discountenanced Ibori's dismissal before at the former governor's kangaroo Federal High Court in Asaba in November 2009.  It would be recalled that Justice Marcel Awokulehin, who was  handpicked and paid off to the tune of $5 million by Ibori, at that time dismissed the 170-count charge against him.

Following the despicable "discharge"by Justice Awokulehin and as reported by Saharareporters, Ibori's lawyers in London went before the Southwark Crown judge to file a motion to quash the London charges contingent upon the compromised Asaba ruling. Judge Harding last month denied the motion and set the trial date for today, February 16.  Instead, Ibori's lawyers headed for the Royal Court of Appeal.

In a ruling delivered by Lord Justice Hughes, Vice President of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal, late this afternoon in London, the High Court dismissed the appeal and agreed that the trial should start tomorrow February 17th 2010 at 14.00hrs GMT at the same Southwark Crown Court.

Ibori's humbled defence lawyers were looking very perplexed after todays events, as it finally dawned on them that all the schoolboy delay tactics and half-cooked appeals had failed.  Equally impressive, they have to wake up tomorrow and head straight to court to begin the trial that their strategies suggest they wanted to avoid at all cost. 

Today's development is another serious setback for Ibori, who just last week lost his right hand man at the Nigerian Ministry of Justice, the powerful and notoriously corrupt Attorney General of Nigeria, Michael Aondokaa, who was removed last week by the Nigerian "Acting President" Goodluck Jonathan.

Aondoakaa has been instrumental to frustrating both the Nigerian and the UK trial of James Ibori and his associates after he was handed his first bribe  of N280 million cash in 2007 soon after he was appointed the AGF.  Andoakaa, demoted to the Ministry of Special Duties, fled the country on "vacation" and is reported to be in Brazil.  When Andoakaa showed up in England last September in connection with his efforts to influence the forthcoming trial, he was chased out of the City of London by Nigerians who used a novel phone call-in to his hotel to hound him until he left. 

Tomorrow, when Ibori's associates appear in court, Aondoakaa's influence will be absent, and with Umaru Yar'Adua fighting for life in Saudi Arabia, Ibori's sister, mistress, secretary and lawyer--armed with lawyers who lost their swagger in the High Court today--can only hope and pray.

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