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  • Ibori pleads guilty to money laundering



  • Former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, on Monday, in a British Court pleaded guilty to charges of money-laundering, conspiring to defraud and obtaining a money transfer by fraud, officials said.

    Ibori, 53, entered his plea at Southwark Crown Court. He is to be sentenced on April 16. According to the Associated Press, Paul Whatmore of the Metropolitan Police Proceeds of Corruption Unit, said Ibori’s guilty pleas capped an inquiry which began in association with Nigerian anti-corruption investigators in 2005.

    Ibori was immune from prosecution in Nigeria between 1999 and 2007 when he was serving as governor. Whatmore said, “We will now be actively seeking the confiscation of all his stolen assets so they can be repatriated for the benefit of the people of Delta State.” “It is always rewarding for anyone working on a proceeds of corruption case to know that the stolen funds they identify will eventually be returned to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.”

    A statement by Metropolitan Police said Ibori used the money to buy lavish houses in London and Johannesburg, a fleet of armoured Land Rovers, and a $20m private jet. He racked up credit card bills of $200,000 a month, police said. Nigeria’s anti-graft investigators, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, had arrested Ibori in 2007, and police in London got a court order to freeze U.K. assets of £35m ($55m) which allegedly belonged to him.

    In 2009, a court in Ibori’s home state capital, Asaba, dismissed 170 charges of corruption against him. The case was reopened in 2010 by Nigerian investigators, but Ibori evaded arrest and fled to Dubai. He was detained there at the request of British police and extradited to London in 2011. British prosecutors previously won convictions against Ibori’s wife, Theresa; his sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie; his mistress, Udoamaka Onuigbo; his lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil; a financial agent, Daniel Benedict McCann; and corporate financier, Lambertus De Boer.

    Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has described Ibori guilt plea as a victory for the rule of law. The spokesperson for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, in an interview with our correspondent on Monday said the commission had been vindicated by the appeal against the judgment of Justice Marcel Awokulehin of a Federal High Court in Asaba which quashed all the 170 counts against the ex-governor.

    He said, “We see it as victory for the rule of law. The decision to plead guilty has more or less vindicated the position of the EFCC that we have a watertight case against James Ibori.”