UK Court Orders Ibori To Pay £101.5m Or Risk Eight-Year Jail

A court in the United Kingdom, UK, has ordered the seizure of £101.5 allegedly belonging to former Delta State governor, James Ibori.

David Tomlinson, a judge at Southwark Crown Court while delivering judgement on Friday after “factual findings”, said Ibori should pay the said amount immediately or risk an eight-year jail sentence.

Reacting to the judgement in a Facebook post, Ibori said the UK court’s hearing was difficult to understand and accept.

The former governor said that not minding many court hearings over the years and “evidence of police corruption”, he still hoped that justice and fairness would eventually prevail.

James Ibori

Ibori stated that although he has accepted his fate “despite the inability of the British prosecutors to show any evidence whatsoever of monies defrauded or indeed missing from Delta state”, he would appeal the judgment.

The statement read, “The order made today was to be paid immediately, this was made in the full knowledge that it could take many months to actually realise the sale of many of these assets.

“There is an eight-year default sentence, which means that if I do not cooperate and pay nothing at all, then the prosecution can apply for the imposition of the default sentence. However, as the prosecution already has a restraint order over the assets – the situation of my not cooperating or paying will not arise.

“However, an issue arises if my restrained assets are sold, and the total realised from the sale does not equal the amount in the order, then the prosecution can still apply for part of the default sentence to be applied, but they could only ask for a sliding scale reduction of the eight years default sentence based on the amounts that remain outstanding.

“If such an application were to be made it would be vigorously contested. In the normal course of events, any talk of a default sentence would normally be stayed until any outstanding Appeal has been concluded.

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“The judge, in this case, appears to have cast aside any pretence of impartiality and has made an order which is both wholly unrealistic and unrealisable.

“He has completely disregarded any arguments, evidence or expert witnesses in my favour. It was apparent during these last two days that he has forgotten many of the important elements of the case which are unsurprising as it almost two years since the case concluded. It has taken him two years to write this judgment and in the interim he has presided over hundreds of cases, but I refuse to make excuses for him.

“At this point in time words fail me and so the question for me as I take my case to the court of appeal, is, if I continue to believe that I may finally get some Justice is this the definition of madness? I know one thing for sure, that if I do not go to the Court of Appeal to contest this outrageous Order then my people will definitely say that I am a madman!”

Recall that Ibori governed Delta state from 1999 to 2007. He was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment by a UK court in 2012 on charges of fraud and money laundering.

Ibori finished his prison sentence in 2016 and came back to Nigeria in 2017.  

Over the years, British prosecutors have made several attempts to confiscate Ibori’s assets alleged to be proceeds of crime.

Obiajulu Joel Nwolu

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