James Ibori, the convicted former governor of Delta State, has been transferred to a maximum-security prison, the Worcestershire Long Lartin Prison outside London. The maximum-security prison houses terrorists, rapists, drug barons and other violent criminals.
In April this year, Mr. Ibori was sentenced to 13 years in prison for using UK financial institutions to launder hundreds of millions of pound sterling he stole from public funds in Delta State. The looted funds enabled Mr. Ibori, his family and mistress to live lavish lifestyles that included purchase of private jets, luxurious cars, and to own plush homes as well as apartments in some of the swankiest areas in London.
Mr. Ibori is expected to serve at least seven years in the UK, since he received credit for his detention in the United Arab Emirates prior to his trial.
The US Department of Justice recently restrained assets belonging to the former governor in Texas and Massachusetts. The action means that Mr. Ibori is in legal trouble in the US whenever he serves out his prison term in the UK.
One of Mr. Ibori’s lawyers, Bhadresh Gohil, his wife, Theresa Nkoyo, sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie, and mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo were all sentenced to prison terms for aiding and abetting the former governor in his money laundering activities.
Meanwhile, several sources in Abuja and Asaba, the Delta State capital, have claimed that Mr. Ibori has now perfected plans to reclaim the $15 million with which he tried, but failed, to bribe Nuhu Ribadu, the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Delta State government, led by Ibori’s cousin and money laundering accomplice, Emmanuel Uduaghan, recently stepped forward to claim the $15 million bribe which has been deposited at the Central Bank of Nigeria for several years. Mr. Ibori frowned at the state government’s move, worried that an open admission that he gave the bribe would complicate things for him.
However, yesterday the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, who initiated a lawsuit in which the federal government sought to take over the money from the Central Bank, had struck a deal with Delta State Governor to enable Mr. Ibori to ultimately reclaim the money. The deal was communicated to Ibori to calm him down.
A source had mused over the matter: “Adoke and the Delta State government are now on the same page and working in tandem. Once the state government obtains a court order awarding the cash to Delta, Chief Ibori will get a Delta State high court to rule that the money was not a bribe but Ibori’s contribution for an undisclosed political purpose. The state court will argue that the former governor was never convicted for any crimes in Nigeria, and order the state to return the cash to its rightful owner, Chief Ibori. The state government will quickly comply.”
Another source said that the country’s attorney general and Minister for Justice has rubberstamped the deal, after officials of Delta State and associates of Mr. Ibori promised him a cut of the $15 million.
A leader of an activist political group in Delta State stated that his group had heard rumors about the planned deal between Mr. Ibori, the state government and Mr. Adoke. “I can tell you that we are vigilant and will resist any attempt to hand back money Ibori stole to the man to enjoy when he comes out of jail. We plan to take him to court again in Nigeria to explain what he did with our people’s money,” said he.