JAMES ONANEFE IBORI:
Nigeria’s VIP ex-Convict former Governor Eyes Senate in 2019 Election…Oils Political Machinery, Ready for Surprise during Electioneering Period
*’Politics is My Life, I am in Politics till I Die’-IBORI
*’Nigerians should leave our Leader Ibori alone, He will Shine in 2019′-Tamuno Dokubo, President, Oghara Youth Assemby in Diaspora, New York
*’We DEPORTED James Ibori after his JAIL TERM for Stealing over $250million Cash belonging to the People of Delta State’-BRITISH Government
*British GOVT Seized Ibori’s Properties: A house in Hampstead, North London for £2.2m, A property in Shaftesbury,Dorset, for £311,000. A £3.2m mansion in Sandton, near Johannesburg, South Africa, A fleet of armoured Range Rovers valued at £600,000. A £120,000 Bentley Continental GT and A Mercedes-Benz Maybach 62 bought for €407,000 cash shipped direct to his mansion in South Africa
BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF/UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, OLIVER SUNDAY, CRIME REPORTER, LONDON & OKECHUKWU ALOY, CRIME CORRESPONDENT, ABUJA
HE MAY have given Nigerians a false belief that everything happening around him are fully rosy, that he is living a fulfilled life. Far from it. James Onanefe Ibori, a two-time governor of oil-rich Delta State, who was earlier sentenced by Southwark Crown Court to jail for 13 years and served only four years for financial crimes in United Kingdom, UK prison, breathed an air of freedom on December 2016 and flew into Nigeria in a chartered flight to a ‘heroic reception’ by the people of Oghara community in the state. Ibori chose to leave behind quickly the nightmare of sleepless nights in the UK prison, as this ex-convict now set his eyes on the Senate position of Nigeria’s National Assembly.
A top aide of this former Governor better known in Nigeria’s political circle as ‘Ogidigborigbo 1 of Delta’ told our correspondent that while Ibori was still serving his jail term in British prison, he had always warned his political aides never to allow his powerful political impact wane in Delta State after been briefed on situations in Nigeria. He had harped on them to keep on oiling his political machinery since he was sure that once he secured his freedom, no force in Nigeria could stop him from becoming a Nigerian Senator representing the people of Oghara community in the upper chamber of the nation’s parliament.
“Our master and leader was sure he was going to secure his freedom from the kangaroo trial of the British government. He fought, never gave up. He was tried, convicted for fraud, but that means nothing to us his followers. Whenever we traveled to United Kingdom to visit him then in jail, he would warn us never to forget his political machines on ground in Delta State. We believe him as his followers and we follow his lead on any issue, every issues. Don’t you see we all received him as our hero in Delta State on his arrival? He will pull up so may surprises during the electioneering period in two years from now. He will hugely disappoint all pessimists. He is a prominent son of soil, first among equals. He is seeing as the godfather of Delta State politics, since he has become a kingmaker. In 2019, our leader will be the one to determine who contest for any political position,” added this aide who preferred anonymity since he is not authorized to speak to the press.
Meanwhile, Ibori has signaled a possible political comeback in Africa’s most populous country, been one of Nigeria’s most powerful men who enjoyed a millionaire lifestyle with luxury of homes, cars in several countries. The former governor, after he secured his freedom in British jail reportedly said he would return within days to Nigeria, where local media have reported that he remains influential in politics. His words: “What happens in African politics – you are in it until you die. I am a politician, I will always be a politician. I play the politics in my party and in my country for the good of my people.”
Without doubt, Ibori’s release had prompted dancing in the streets in parts of Delta State, corroborated by a video that later surfaced on YouTube which showed Ibori feted in London by supporters including a sitting Delta State senator who said, to cheers, that Ibori had “made” the careers of several prominent Nigerian politicians while in prison.
‘Nigerians should leave our Leader Ibori alone, He will Shine in 2019’-Tamuno Dokubo, President, Oghara Youth Assemby in Diaspora, New York
Same way, Tanumo Dokubo, President, Oghara Youth Assembly in Diaspora based in New York has come fully in defense of Ibori. In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, he explained that “Chief Ibori, as governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, is one of the most illustrious sons of Delta State whom we all queue behind. He is our leader and flag-bearer of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Delta State. He is the power broker of Nigeria politics. No Nigerian court dare put him on trial this time around. Nigerians should leave our leader Ibori alone, so he can shine in 2019 as a Distinguished Senator representing Oghara community.”
However, the British Government has openly made it clear that Ibori was convicted, jailed and deported like any other deportee for stealing over $250million belonging to the people of Delta state, been he was an ex-Convict. After his prison experience.
‘We DEPORTED James Ibori after his JAIL TERM for Stealing over $250million Cash belonging to the People of Delta State’-BRITISH Government
The British government issued a statement to the effect that former Governor James Onanefe Ibori was deported to Nigeria following the conclusion of his jail term in Britain. However, the statement disclosed that British officials would continue the legal process to confiscate the proceeds of the former governor’s loot, which would then be returned to Nigeria.
The statement obtained read in parts: “Having been jailed for his crimes in the UK and served his sentence, Mr. Ibori has now been returned to Nigeria by deportation. The UK will continue to pursue, vigorously, the legal process to confiscate and return to Nigeria, Ibori’s criminal assets. The UK is determined to lead the way in a coordinated global effort to bring the corrupt to justice.
“That is why it was vital we sent a clear message to the world that James Ibori, a man who stole millions from the Nigerian Government and laundered those proceeds in the UK, has been held to account.
Since Tuesday, April 17, 2012, when Ibori was sentenced to 13 years by Southwark Crown Court for his crimes. Among possessions confiscated from him that were illegally acquired, include:
- A house in Hampstead, north London, for £2.2m
- A property in Shaftesbury, Dorset, for £311,000
- A £3.2m mansion in Sandton, near Johannesburg,South Africa
- A fleet of armoured Range Rovers valued at £600,000
- A £120,000 Bentley Continental GT
- A Mercedes-Benz Maybach 62 bought for €407,000 cash, that was shipped direct to his mansion in South Africa
After the sentencing hearing, Sue Patten, head of the Crown Prosecution Service Central fraud group, said it would bid to confiscate the assets Ibori had acquired his riches “at the expense of some of the poorest people in the world”
Conviction of Ibori in Nigeria earlier
For the records, on 27 February 2012, Ibori was accused of stealing US$250 million from the Nigerian public purse. Ibori pleaded guilty to ten counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud at Southwark Crown Court, London.
Following the guilty plea entered by Ibori, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC brought before an Appeal Court the 6 year old ruling of a Federal High Court in Asaba which acquitted Ibori in 2009. They EFCC sought the court to set aside the ruling of the lower court on the grounds that the presiding judge, Justice Awokulehin, erred in law while delivering his judgement. A three-man panel of justices at the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal on May 15, 2014 ruled that the ex- governor has a case to answer. With this judgment, the coast became clear for Ibori to face further trial in Nigeria after his jail term in London, which he has now completed.
Ibori was released from British prison in December 2016 after a court order. He served 4 years out of the 13 years he was sentenced to. There is indication of of his arraignment in Nigeria courts as it is believe that his conviction in United Kingdom is not related to several other financial improprieties committed by him. Several legal experts unanimously say: “Mr. Ibori’s return to Nigeria will not prevent prosecutors from pursuing confiscation proceedings against him.”
Going by the foregoing, Ibori, seeing a very-important-personality, VIP former Convict, obviously his myriad of problems and prosecution for fraud, money laundering, stealing are far from being over, as we are closely monitoring proceedings.