Money laundering: Ibori to be sentenced today

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LAGOS —  FIFTY-NINE months after quitting power and 47 days after pleading guilty to 10-count money laundering charges, former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori, will be sentenced by a London court today.

Ibori, who the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, said still had a case to answer at home in spite of the London prosecution, pleaded guilty on February 27 to 10 charges of fraud and money laundering. He gave the EFCC a hard nut to crack when the anti-graft agency tried to arrest him in his Oghara, Delta home town.

Chief James Onanefe Ibori

He travelled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates where he was arrested in 2010. At the request of the Metropolitan Police, he was extradited to London last year for trial after sessions in the Arab nation’s judiciary.

Ibori’s trial was originally scheduled to commence in London’s Southwark Crown Court on February 27 only for him to plead guilty to money laundering charges.

The  assets he acquired with the proceeds will consequently be confiscated and returned to Nigeria.

Popularly called Odidigborigbo by admirers and political associates, he governed the oil-rich Delta State between 1999 and 2007. He opted for a plea bargain with his British prosecutors in the hope of receiving a lighter sentence.

The court heard of how Ibori, during his tenure as governor, racked up credit card bills of $200,000 a month and owned a fleet of armoured Range Rovers.

Police detective, Paul Whatmore said : “We are pleased with today’s guilty pleas which mark the culmination of a seven-year inquiry into James Ibori’s corrupt activities. We will now be actively seeking the confiscation of all of his stolen assets so they can be repatriated for the benefit of the people of Delta State.”

His wife, Theresa; sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie; associate, Udoamaka Okoronkwo; and London-based solicitor, Bhadresh Gohil have all already been convicted of money laundering. Ibori-Ibie and Okoronkwo-Onuigbo were later sentenced to 21 years in prison in London for their different roles in the case.

The British police had earlier dropped corruption charges levelled against Ibori, leaving him to face money laundering charges.

It is to be seen if Ibori will be handed a light sentence as he envisages.

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