James Ibori has case to answer, may be jailed again in Nigeria

The former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who returned to Nigeria Saturday after serving jail term in the United Kingdom for corruption and met with the head of the State Security Service, Lawal Daura may be jailed again in Nigeria since he has a pending case in Nigeria before his extradition to the UK.

A lawyer, Bar. Tajudeen Balogun has confirmed to the Rezponder that Ibori actually he has multiple cases pending in court in Nigeria before his extradition to the UK. And with the Anti-corruption stance of the President Buhari government and the fact that the commission has recorded more convictions in the last one year than all the states and federal ministries of justices combined, it is a matter of time before the case will be reopened.

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Rezponder recalled that six years after Justice Marcel Awokulehin theatrically struck out all 170-count charge of money laundering preferred against former governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, a three-man panel of justices at the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal on May 15, 2014 ruled that the ex- governor who is currently serving a 13-year jail term in a London prison, has a case to answer.

With the above judgment, the coast was clear for Ibori to face trial in Nigeria upon the completion of his jail term in London. His conviction in a London court was largely based on the evidence supplied by the EFCC, the Commission secured the final forfeiture of the $15million bribe, which he allegedly offered to a former chairman of the Commission, to the Federal Government.

Ibori, the former governor of Delta State who was recently released from a British prison after serving a sentence for corruption, who had earlier signaled a possible political comeback in Nigeria met the director general of SSS, Mr. Daura immediately he arrived in the country.

Daura confirmed the meeting to journalists saying “He met me for a short debriefing session and way forward; also, to welcome him back to his fatherland. We are also meeting soon to discuss issues of interest affecting the nation,” is does not in any way affect the ruling of a three-man panel of justices at the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal in May 15, 2014 where they ruled that the ex- governor who was serving a 13-year jail term in a London prison, has a case to answer.

The unanimous decision of court setting aside the infamous ruling of Justice Awokulehin was delivered by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa and was supported by Justices P. M Ekpe and H. A Barka respectively.

Displeased with the controversial ruling by Justice Awokulehin, then of the Federal High Court, Asaba, the EFCC, had approached the appellate court to set aside the judgment on the grounds that the court erred in law.

The appeal was predicated on four grounds. One, that the trial judge looked at the proof of evidence and evaluated same as if the prosecution had called all its witnesses and trial, has been concluded.

Secondly, that the procedure is by way of summary trial and not trial by indictment or information.

That the proof of evidence clearly shows a prima facie case has been disclosed against the accused/ respondent and that His Lordship erred when he held that no case was disclosed against the accused/ respondent.

Fourthly, that the judgment is unwarranted, unreasonable and against the weight of proof of evidence filed by the prosecution in support of the charges.

Holding that the appeal was meritorious, Justice Salauwa, resolved all the four issues for determination in favour of the EFCC and directed that the matter be re-assigned to another judge of the Federal High Court for the continuation of trial.
In August 2016 the EFCC viewed with concern and tackled NBA President Abubakar Mahmoud with Ibori case when he made a call at 56th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association that the EFCC be stripped of its prosecutorial powers.

The commission insisted that ‘The question Nigerians must ask the Mahmoud-led NBA is, what is wrong with EFCC prosecution? Mahmoud is in a position to answer this question. He was the Attorney General of the Federation’s counsel in the trial of former Delta State governor, James Ibori at the Federal High Court, Asaba, a case which EFCC lost in questionable circumstances.  But the same ingredients from that case were used to fetch Ibori a 13-year jail term in London’’.

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