A former governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison by a British court after pleading guilty to embezzling 50 million pounds. He pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money, five counts of money laundering and one count of obtaining a property transfer by deception over the theft of more than ÂŁ25 million while he was governor of Delta state between May 1999 and May 2007.
James Ibori also pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to make false instruments, and one count of money laundering linked to a 37 million US dollar share fraud surrounding the sale of shares in V Mobile, a Nigerian GSM company. The prosecutor also said that Ibori engaged in a wide variety of frauds, with the biggest scam involving $37 million in fake consultancy fees that he billed during the sale of Delta State's stake in mobile V Mobile.
During the two-day sentencing at the Southwark Crown Court in London, the judge said it was one of the biggest money-laundering cases he has ever seen and that the 50 million pounds Ibori had admitted to stealing was probably a "ludicrously low" fraction of the total amount. The judge said, "The figure may be in excess of 200 million pounds, it is difficult to tell. The confiscation proceedings may shed some further light on the enormity of the sums involved."
The court was also told how Ibori used his stolen money to buy foreign property, including six properties worth 6.9 million pounds, a fleet of luxury cars including a Bentley and a Maybach 62. It was also reported that he was trying to buy a $20 million private jet when he was arrested. He was arrested in Dubai and extradited to the UK in April, last year.
His wife Theresa Ibori, sister Christine Ibori-Idie, mistress Udoamaka Okoronkwo and London-based solicitor Bhadresh Gohil have already been convicted of money-laundering.
His lawyer argued for leniency saying that Ibori'scrimes were mitigated by his achievements as governor, particularly the construction of vital infrastructure and securing the release of foreign oil workers held hostage in Nigeria in 2006 and 2007. The lawyer said, â€śHe was fully engaged in the business of governorship and not simply someone who sought public office in order to enrich himself and his family.â€ť
The lawyer also presented John Fashanu, a former Wimbledon football player, now Nigeria's ambassador for sports and tourism, as a character witness. John Fashanu told the court that he has known Ibori for more than 20 year and pointed out how Ibori built three Olympic and FIFA-registered stadia, an 18-hole golf course and a shooting range in Delta State.
However, the judge responded to the statements of Ibori's achievements by saying that he was not sure if the ordinary people of Delta State were using those facilities, and that it was not his duty to judge Ibori's performance as governor of Delta state but rather to sentence him for his specific crimes. He said, â€śI accept that there is another side that is a good side to Mr James Ibori the man, and I am sure the governor of Delta state, a side different to the man of corruption, lining his own and his familyâ€™s pockets with single-minded devotion and determination, as has been described to me by the prosecution.
â€śI point out once again, it is not for me to judge your governorship and the effect it has had on the Delta state - I leave that to the good people of Nigeria and Delta state themselves.â€ť. The judge also said that he had reduced Ibori's sentence to reflect the guilty plea and its impact to saving UK taxpayer's money and court time since the case would not need to go to trial.
The court also heard that in 1991 Ibori was convicted for stealing from the cash register, while working as a cashier at Wickes, a home improvements chainstore in London and in 1992, he was convicted again, for handling a stolen credit card. These convictions should have disqualified Ibori from contesting as governor in Nigeria
The head of the Crown Prosecution Service central fraud group, also spoke, saying, â€śDuring his two terms as governor of Delta State, James Ibori deliberately and systematically defrauded the people whose interests he had been elected to represent. The sums involved in the offences to which Ibori has pleaded guilty amount to approximately ÂŁ50 million, acquired at the expense of the some of the poorest people in the world.
â€śCombined sentences of 43 years imprisonment have now been imposed on Ibori and those convicted for assisting him, including his sister, his mistress, his wife, his lawyer and others. But the work of the CPS continues. The next step will be to enable the courts to make a confiscation order in respect of Iboriâ€™s illegal profits.
â€śIbori enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, including several substantial properties, a Bombardier Challenger jet aeroplane costing 20 million dollars he was in the process of buying and several vehicles, including a Jaguar, a Mercedes Maybach and a Bentley, all funded from the proceeds of his crimes against the people of Nigeria. These are just a number of assets that will be considered as part of confiscation proceedings.
â€śThree million pounds has already been clawed back from his co-defendants and work continues to realise assets to pay towards the confiscation orders imposed on them.
James Ibori is likely to spend only four and a half more years behind bars since he has already been in custody for two years, one in Dubai and one in London, and he will be eligible for parole after spending half of his sentence (six and a half years) in custody.
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"Coming In From The Cold" California, USA April 28, 2012
I have said it before and I'll say it again - real change; I mean the right change that we all desire in our country, CANNOT, and WILL NOT come under normal circumstances.
These rogues will continue to milk us dry and their children will follow suit to continue taking advantage of the masses.
I don't want to seem to propagate or promote violence but there is no doubt in my mind that a state of extreme confusion, agitation or turmoil is not far away. It is an absolute prerequisite to achieving normality in a place like Nigeria.
Are you all, especially our psychologists and psychiatrists, taking note of the impact of corruption on our people's psyche, mentality or state of mind? Have you all noticed that
Nigerians have become much more emotionless people, not showing much empathy or caring much about others, like they used to be? Human dead body will be on the street or roadside and everybody will just be passing by it as if it is that of a dead dog or cat.
Nigerians were not like this when I was growing up. Corruption has created montrous Nigerians. They just need a spark to spur into action. This attitudinal or behavioral cankerworm caused by this pandemic corruption will be the nemesis for these greedy bastards ruining our country. Their end is near. I am a freethinker; I am not religious; I believe in God and I believe God is at work, somehow. God works in miraculous ways which we really donâ€™t understand, especially the divine ones. Most times, God uses human beings to carry out his plan involving human beings.
God sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to â€ślet my people goâ€ť. At the same time, God â€śhardenedâ€ť Pharaohâ€™s heart so he will refuse the order. Why, you may ask, would God be playing both ends of the field? The reason is to make the plan work perfectly, from a human standpoint.
I predict that Nigerian politicians would face the same downfall or wrath as Pharaohâ€™s. They have hardened their hearts and refused to change their corrupt ways and oblige the yearning of Nigerians. Itâ€™s time for God to use our own â€śMosesâ€ť or â€śAaronâ€ť or a group of Nigerians to force the change that we all want. Only real actions will do it, not just prayers.
There is a book by Jim Hightower titled, â€śThieves in High Places: They've Stolen Our Country and It's Time to Take It Backâ€ť. In this book, Jim Hightower was writing about politicians and government of the U.S.A. And this is a country where people donâ€™t dip their hands into the treasury or steal flagrantly. In the case of Nigeria, the book would be titled, â€śThieves in High Places: They've Stolen Our Country Blind and It's Time to Kill Them Allâ€ť.
In the abnormal and extreme case of Nigeria, where there is no rule of law and the politicians are extremely greedy, correction must involve militancy and bloodshed; no ifs or buts about it. It will be ludicrous to think of solving the Nigerian corruption problem in a democratic, steady, gradual manner. The situation is so grave, this corrupt Nigerian government needs to be brought to an abrupt end by any means necessary since our laws and system of government are not working. This is terrible.
They have bitten more than they can chew and these crazy looters must be chased out of town immediately. I donâ€™t see any reasonable, sensible, patient, or peaceful way out of this predicament we are in.
eni chicago, usa April 26, 2012
Omotayo,why do you sound as if you are so surprised at the action of Mr. Fashanu? I thought you live and see how these" common thieves" behave, as if untouchable ( which they are ) in Nigeria. I am in agreement with your write up, just that it bafles me that you would even entertain the tinnest idea of the ambassador betraying a prominent member of the same class. Do you know that if we were to be living in a sane society in Nigeria that mr. Fashanu would have been recalled from his ambassadorial post and be axed from the ministry of tourism. But, this is Nigeria where anything goes and no body seemed to care. Last time when one Idris ,the muscian sang " Niaja, jaga, jaga oh! " OBJ was so outraged that he scared the poor boy to run uderground.The question is, today, Nigeria not be so?
If not be so ,why will a serving minister and ambassador for that matter go to a foreign country to act as a character witness for a criminal. Think folks.
bighead Delhi, india April 24, 2012
Very very shameful to nigeria judiciary, ibori did nothing wrong before them because of bribery. Nigeria is a place people are proud of their crimes, those judges pleaded in favour ibori should resign or be killed
OMOTAYO, J. A. Lagos, NIGERIA April 23, 2012
If Mr. John Fashanu was not ashamed of Mr. Ibori's crime, then he is not worthy of being Nigeria's soccer ambassador and tourism minister. How can a reasonable man justify the looting that varied from $50 million to ÂŁ200 million from Delta State with the construction of three stadia, a golf course and a shooting range? Was it constitutional for Mr. Ibori to have accepted gratifications how much more the looting of the treasury in his State? Was the loot not more than the total cost of projects that Mr. Fashanu was proud to itemise at the Southwalk Crown Court in London? Mr. Fashanu is a wrong ambassador to emulate. God save Nigeria.
Orchanjah Lagos, Nigeria April 20, 2012
Na waooooh!!!!! The Odidigboligbo of Africa has gone to the cooler. No one is above the LAW