Ex-Gov. Ibori pleads guilty to looting Delta State; called a “thief in government house”


Ex-Gov. Ibori pleads guilty to looting of Delta State, called a “thief in government house” by British prosecutor.

James Ibori_former-governor-of-delta-state-nigeria via

Special to,  the USAfrica-powered e-groups of  Nigeria360IgboEventsUNNalumni,  and CLASSmagazine Houston.
USAfrica: James Ibori, former influential governor of Nigeria’s oil rich state of Delta has entered a guilty plea today Monday February 27, 2012, for the crimes of fraud, embezzlement, conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to make false instruments and money laundering. Ibori, a man from very modest background and poor financial means in the 1990s until he schemed his way to the governorship in 1999, was arrested in 2010 in Dubai and was extradited to London for his many crimes.

USAfrica notes, too, that the disgraced former Governor of Delta Ibori was reputed as major financier of the late President Umar Yar’Adua-Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign in 2007. It is equally important to point out that the so-called “trials” of Ibori in Nigeria by the EFCC and the courts failed but the British system nailed Ibori with so much evidence that he sought a guilty plea bargain. The prosecutor called him a “thief in government house.”

We reference the AP report on Ibori’s guilty plea:
James Ibori, 49, entered his plea at Southwark Crown Court. He is to be sentenced on April 16.
Paul Whatmore of the Metropolitan Police Proceeds of Corruption Unit said Ibori’s guilty pleas capped an inquiry which began in association with Nigerian anti-corruption investigators in 2005. Ibori was immune from prosecution in Nigeria between 1999 and 2007 when he was serving as governor of Bayelsa state, police said.
“We will now be actively seeking the confiscation of all of his stolen assets so they can be repatriated for the benefit of the people of Delta state,” Whatmore said.
“It is always rewarding for anyone working on a proceeds of corruption case to know that the stolen funds they identify will eventually be returned to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.”
A statement by Metropolitan Police said Ibori used the money to buy lavish houses in London and Johannesburg, a fleet of armored Land Rovers, and a $20 million private jet. He racked up credit card bills of $200,000 a month, police said.
Nigeria’s anti-graft investigators, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, had arrested Ibori in 2007, and police in London got a court order to freeze U.K. assets of 35 million pounds ($55 million) which allegedly belonged to him.
In 2009, a court in Ibori’s home town of Asaba dismissed 170 charges of corruption against him.
The case was reopened in 2010 by Nigerian investigators, but Ibori evaded arrested and fled to Dubai. He was detained there at the request of British police and extradited to London in 2011.

British prosecutors previously won convictions against Ibori’s wife, Theresa; his sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie; his mistress, Udoamaka (Okoronkwo Onuigbo); his lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil; a financial agent, Daniel Benedict McCann; and corporate financier Lambertus De Boer.
Police said two computer hard drives seized from the lawyer’s London office proved to be a major break in the case.
Ibori had previous convictions in London, police said.
He and his wife were charged in 1990 with stealing goods from a hardware store where Ibori worked as a low-paid cashier; he was fined 300 pounds. In 1991, he was fined 100 pounds after being convicted of handling a stolen credit card, police said. (AP).
In her summary of the case, Margaret Davis in The Independent newspaper of London notes that “Ibori also pleaded 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 Nigerian company V Mobile.
Prosecutor Sasha Wass told the court Ibori had accepted he was involved in “wide-scale theft, fraud and corruption when he was governor of Delta state”.
Ibori allegedly used a false date of birth when he ran for the governorship of Delta state to conceal previous convictions as a criminal record would have excluded him from taking part in the election.
Ms Wass went on: “Mr. Ibori tricked his way into public office. He had tricked the Nigerian authorities and the Nigerian voters. He was thus never the legitimate governor of Delta state.”
According to prosecutors he is 49, but according to the date of birth he used in Nigeria he would be 53.
Speaking outside court, Detective Inspector Paul Whatmore said it is estimated that Ibori stole around £250 million from the Nigerian state.
He said: “The scale can only be described as huge. Vast sums of money which were used to fund his lavish lifestyle.
“The real harm in this case is the potential loss to people in some of the poorest regions in the world.”
Attempts will now be made to confiscate as much of the money as possible, so that it can be returned to the state government, Mr. Whatmore said.

Ibori, whose address in England was given as Primrose Hill in north London, was working as a cashier in a branch of a DIY store in Ruislip, Middlesex, when he moved to Nigeria and worked his way up through the political ranks to become a state governor in 1999.
As governor of the state, he was racking up credit card bills of $200,000 US dollars per month on a luxury lifestyle, including running a fleet of armoured Range Rovers.
He was trying to buy a plane for £20 million at the time he was arrested.”

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