Ibori James Onanafe, former Delta state governor, has been sentenced to a 13 years jail term after admitting to 10 counts of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering totaling the sum of $77m almost £55. The ex-governor who is a living testimony of transforming from a life of “grass to grace” has been brought to book over charges which have as a result deprived indigenes of the Nigerian Delta state, a decent living. The tremendously oil rich Nigeria, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, still has a staggering level of mortality rate with at least 60% of its population living below the poverty line with barely under $1 a day.
Ibori who worked in the United Kingdom as a DIY store cashier left the United Kingdom for Nigeria after being accused of theft from the store to chase a political carrier with one of Nigeria’s most prominent and powerful political party, Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). He further failed to attest his true date of birth while swearing the oath of office so as to avoid being traced back to his previous accusation of theft in the United Kingdom and given a green light to run for office.
Further into Ibori’s schemes, he chose to avoid mentioning his real age and claimed to the Nigerian authorities that he is 53 but conflicting facts arise as the United Kingdom authorities who had his details prior to his return to Nigeria while working at Wickes DIY as a cashier say he, Ibori is 49.
Ibori who was sworn into political office as the new Delta state governor in 1999 failed to take into consideration the livelihood of the people who selected him to represent them. Delta state continues to suffer great challenges even with the oil wealth it encompasses. The Human Rights Watch, making comparisons with the immense turmoil the people of Delta state would have to face, say that Ibori’s convictions remain a lesson for corrupt leaders and is a huge step towards the fight against corruption around the globe.
Ibori, who after evading capture in Nigeria, fled for Dubai where he was arrested in 2010 and extradited to the United Kingdom for prosecution based on evidence given by the Metropolitan Police.
Sentencing him at the Southwark Crown Court, Judge Anthony Pitts told Ibori: “You lived modestly in London in the 1990s and no-one I think hearing at that time would imagine the multi millionaire high profile governor that you became some eight or nine years later.” Ibori is said to have stolen “unquatified” amounts of money from the people of Delta state during his term as Governor from 1999 – 2007 as some of his wealth still remains unknown.
The ex-governor is said to have bought 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 armored Range Rovers valued at £600,000 amongst many other hidden assets. All these and many more suppossedly acquired based on a salary of about £4,000 a year while the people of Delta remain faced with endless anguish.
Ibori, though with a few supporters outnumbered by the number of critics, is faced with a 13 year jail term which many claim is not close to satisfactory in comparison to the deprivation he has caused the people of Delta state.