Former Delta State Governor, James Ibori’s attempt to relaunch his political career is at risk as a London court has threatened a fresh 10-year jail term over money he’s expected to pay up.
A state prosecutor on Thursday had requested a London court to order confiscation of $129 million from the Nigerian politician, according to Reuters.
Ibori who once straddled the Nigerian political space like a colossus is facing renewed threat of prison sentence following his conviction of fraud in the UK.
He was convicted and served sentence after being extradited to the UK in 2011 from Dubai, where he had been hiding after escaping the Nigerian anti-graft agencies.
He was charged with laundering a “corruptly acquired fortune” and pleaded guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money laundering.
He was sentenced to 13 years in jail in a British rare case of convicting foreign politicians who looted their countries’ wealth.
Ibori’s case was particularly novel being that despite many years of accusation that Nigerian politicians loot their country’s wealth and stash them abroad, none had been convicted.
His case was hailed as an outlier.
But the question of what should actually be returned by Ibori, who was twice governor of oil-rich Delta, has been a constant focus in court despite serving his sentence.
But new evidence provided by Judge David Tomlinson of Southwark Crown Court appears to be bringing the case to a close.
On Thursday, after an argument about the computation of one of the biggest loot by a politician from Nigeria, the judge is expected to issue the final order on Friday or shortly afterward.
According to the lead prosecution counsel, Jonathan Kinnear, the total amount that should be confiscated from Ibori was £101.5 million.
He implored the judge to sentence Ibori to 10 years or not less than 5 years if he did not pay up.
Ibori who has been appearing at social functions and trying to redeem his battered image returned to Nigeria in 2017.
He has failed to attend all subsequent hearings. He was also absent at Thursday’s hearing.
The politician who has visited President Bola Tinubu twice and was part of the ex-governor Nyesom Wike’s team that hosted Tinubu before his inauguration as president has been left fuming at the fresh development.
The dissatisfied Ibori said he would appeal whatever judgement is issued via his Facebook page on Thursday.
“Finally, the shenanigans in the Southwark Crown Court are drawing to a close. Judge Tomlinson is due to make a confiscation order which should be both realisable and not punitive,” Ibori said on his Facebook page.
He added that, “However, after what transpired in court today my hopes are rapidly fading for any degree of fairness.
“In the 2 years it has taken to write this judgement it seems apparent that he has forgotten many of the salient points and is prioritising expediency over justice.
“The next step will be to take my fight for justice to the highest courts in the UK.”
THE WHISTLER reports that Ibori’s wife alongside his sister was also jailed in the UK on accusation of helping him launder public funds.
In 2021, his wife returned £4.2 million as part of the loot to the British government.