Nigeria’s former governor James Onanefe Ibori who was released from prison in the United Kingdom (UK) about noon today after serving a 13 years prison sentence for corruption and money laundering is set to return to Nigeria in January.
Justice Juliet May gave the edict that the matter for the deportation of the Delta state former governor from the UK must be heard before the end of January while ordering Ibori’s immediate release from prison.
However, the UK’s Home Office earlier rejected the release of James Ibori from prison, with representatives of Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, arguing that Ibori might “frustrate confiscation proceedings” and therefore Ibori should be kept in jail or subject to strict controls on his movement.
Rudd is claiming Ibori hands over £18m (about 7 billion naira) of “proceeds of crime” to the UK government, but the High Court Judge has said the attempts to further detain Ibori were “quite extraordinary”.
Ibori’s barrister, Ivan Krolic, explained that Ibori’s confiscation proceedings collapsed in 2013, after the prosecution was unable to establish any theft from Nigeria’s Delta state treasury, and any benefit for Ibori.
“A three-week hearing which heard live evidence was abandoned by the prosecutors – Wass QC and Shutzer-Weissman.
“Both prosecutors have since been dismissed from the case for gross misconduct,” Krolic said.
Krolic further explained that British police officers in the case led by DC McDonald, have again been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and now face a tough investigation into their corrupt activities in the case.
“The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has confirmed officers in the case were corrupt.
“It has since disclosed substantial material evidencing the graft,” Krolic said.
Meanwhile, the CPS had admitted in September that the review team ordered to review evidence following allegations that police took bribes and prosecutors covered it up, at the prompt of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, found material to support the assertion that a police officer received payment in return for information.
“You don’t hold someone just because it is convenient to do so and without plans to deport them,” Justice May declared.
Ordering Ibori’s release, Justice May said: “The Secretary of State appears to have taken it upon herself that Ibori does remain in this country, in apparent contradiction of the order served earlier this year to deport him”.
“The position of the Secretary of State, as very candidly set out by Mr Birdling (representing the Home Secretary), is that she accepts that there is an argument that she has no power to detain him.
“I have decided that the balance of convenience falls heavily in favour of his immediate release.
“I am not prepared to impose conditions involving tagging or curfews,” Justice May said, adding that “The matter of Ibori’s deportation should be heard before the end of January”.
TheNewsGuru reporter in the UK has confirmed that Ibori has since been released from prison following the order, but he will remain and spend Christmas in the UK until the confiscation matter for his deportation from the UK is resolved.
Ibori was released from Her Majesty’s Huntercombe Prison near Nuffield in Oxfordshire, England, where he spent his prison term, with his sister, Christine Ibori Ibie and a team of his lawyer on ground to pick him to the sister’s apartment in Wembley, an area of northwest London.
“He is out of here”, a prison source confirmed.