James Ibori, who is now drug-indicted Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s favorite and a former Nigerian state governor who abused his office to amass wealth and laundered millions in Britain and other countries, will face an attempt to seize 101.5 million pounds ($130 million) from him, as per a court order issued in London on Friday.
According to Reuter, Below is a timeline outlining Ibori’s complex legal and political journey:
EARLY RUN-INS WITH THE LAW IN BRITAIN: During the early 1990s, Ibori resided in London with his wife, Theresa Ibori. He briefly worked as a shop assistant at a Wickes home improvement chain store. However, both he and his wife were arrested, convicted of theft, and fined for attempting to steal goods from the store. Additionally, Ibori faced another conviction for possessing stolen goods after being caught with someone else’s American Express card at London’s Euston train station.
POLITICAL ASCENT IN NIGERIA: Later in the 1990s, Ibori forged a close friendship with Major Hamza al-Mustapha, who served as the Chief Security Officer to General Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s military dictator at that time. This association proved advantageous for Ibori as it facilitated his entry into politics and business ventures. In 1999, with Nigeria transitioning to a democracy following Abacha’s death, Ibori was elected as the governor of Delta State, one of Nigeria’s significant oil-producing regions. He served two consecutive four-year terms, stepping down in May 2007.
INVESTIGATION INTO CORRUPTION: Starting from 2005, Mr James became the subject of a joint investigation conducted by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and London’s Metropolitan Police. This inquiry uncovered properties he owned secretly in Britain, South Africa, and the United States. Evidence of his extravagant lifestyle emerged, including American Express credit card bills, which revealed lavish spending on luxury hotels, shopping, restaurants, and nightclubs, totaling tens of thousands of dollars each month.
$15 MILLION BRIBE ALLEGATION: Then EFCC Chairman Nuhu Ribadu claimed that Ibori had offered him a $15 million cash bribe in April 2007 to halt the investigation. Ribadu stated that he pretended to accept the bribe but instead deposited the money at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Ibori refuted this accusation in statements to Nigerian media but refused to be cross-examined in a British court. Ribadu, however, testified under oath in a London court, and British judges accepted his testimony as true.
EXTRADITION, IMPRISONMENT, AND RETURN: In 2010, He left Nigeria for Dubai. Following Britain’s request for his extradition, he was flown to London in 2011 and subsequently imprisoned. In 2012, he pleaded guilty to ten charges of fraud and money laundering at London’s Southwark Crown Court, receiving a 13-year jail sentence. The case was celebrated in Britain as a significant milestone in the fight against corruption. Ibori was released in December 2016, having served half of his sentence before and after the conviction, and he returned to Nigeria in early 2017, receiving a warm welcome from cheering supporters in Delta State.
CONFISCATION CHALLENGES: British prosecutors, initiated efforts to confiscate Ibori’s assets in 2013. However, the process faced repeated setbacks due to related legal actions and lengthy court delays. Ibori, along with several co-defendants who had previously served jail time for assisting in his money-laundering activities, launched appeals against their convictions, alleging corruption within the ranks of the Metropolitan Police had tainted the investigation. In 2018, Court of Appeal judges rejected these claims, upholding the convictions.
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