The London Telegraph reported yesterday how the Yar’Adua administration opted out of a prisoner transfer agreement with Britain unless the Crown Prosecution Service dropped charges against ex-Governor James Ibori of Delta State. Chief Ibori is accused of laundering more than 196 million Pounds public funds in Britain.
The agreement would have allowed Britain deport more than 400 of the 1,000 Nigerian prisoners in Britain. But the talks were aborted after Britain refused to cooperate with Nigeria.
Wikileaks quoting a diplomatic cable from the US embassy in London said:
“Nigerian Attorney General (AG) Michael Aondoakaa has directly told the UK the “Government of Nigeria] will not begin negotiations on the PTA unless the UK drops its case against former Delta State Governor James Ibori and his associates”.
The Telegraph said even after Britain offered to build a state-of-the-art new prison in Nigeria in return for the transfer of at least 400 Nigerian inmates, the offer was rejected.
Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) brought 170 corruption charges against Mr Ibori in December 2007, but a court in Asaba cleared him in 2009, saying there was no clear evidence on which to convict.
Southwark Crown Court froze UK assets of £17m allegedly belonging to Mr Ibori after the EFCC passed a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Mr Ibori, who denies all charges against him, was arrested in Dubai last May after the intervention of the global police agency Interpol.
Dubai’s highest court has ruled in December he could be extradited to Britain to face corruption charges.