James Onanefe Ibori is a former Governor of Delta State in Nigeria (29 May 1999 - 29 May 2007). He is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
James Ibori was born on August 4, 1958, in Oghara clan, Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State. Ibori attended Baptist High School, Oghareki (now Oghareki Grammar School). Then he graduated from the University of Benin with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and statistics.
In the 1980s, James Ibori moved to London, England where he met and married his wife, Theresa. He used to work as a cashier at Wickes DIY store in Ruislip, Middlesex. In 1990, the couple were arrested for theft from the store, and fined £300 (N84,000). In 1991, he was convicted of handling a stolen credit card, and fined £100 (N28,000).
After he returned to Nigeria, Ibori served as a consultant to the Federal Government of President Sani Abacha, in the areas of public policy formulation and implementation.
On January 9, 1999, he won the governoship election and became the governor of Delta State. To hide his previous convictions in the UK, Ibori obtained a false birth certificate and then passport, medically incorrect as it was dated a month after his younger sisters birthdate. In 2003, he was re-elected as governor for another four-year term.
In 2007, the Metropolitan Police raided the London offices of lawyer Bhadresh Gohil where they found computer hard drives containing details of a myriad of off-shore companies, run for Ibori by Gohil.
In August 2007, Ibori’s assets valued at about £17 million (N4,7 billion) were frozen in the United Kingdom. In November 2007, his wife, Nkoyo, was arrested at Heathrow Airport in London in connection with the probe of the assets of her husband, particularly in the United Kingdom. However, she was released after being questioned.
In December 2007, Ibori was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the Kwara State Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, over theft of public funds, abuse of office, and money laundering. Nuhu Ribadu who brought these charges against Ibori additionally alleged that Ibori attempted to bribe him to drop the charges with a cash gift of $15 million (N2,6 billion), which Ribadu immediately lodged in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The cash remains in the CBN as an exhibit.
In December 2009, a Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, Delta State, discharged and acquitted Ibori of all 170 charges of corruption brought against him by EFCC.
In April 2010, after Goodluck Jonathan took over the government, Ibori's case file was reopened. A new allegation that he embezzled N40 billion ($266 million) was pressed against him. Later he fled Nigeria, prompting the EFCC to request the assistance of Interpol.
In May 2010, Ibori arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates under Interpol arrest warrants, issued from United Kingdom courts and enacted by the Metropolitan Police. Then the Nigerian government and the United Kingdom agreed to work together on Ibori's extradition to the United Kingdom.
In June 2010, James Ibori's sister, Christine Ibie-Ibori and his associate, Udoamaka Okoronkwo, were found guilty on counts of money laundering and sentenced to 5 years in prison. At the same time, the Governor of the CBN, Malam Sanusi Lamido revealed that Ibori had used Delta State as collateral for N40 billion loan when he was governor.
In April 2012, after Ibori pleaded guilty to ten counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud, he was sentenced to 13 years by Southwark Crown Court for his crimes in London.