Nigerians divided on whether Ibori should be prosecuted upon return to the country

James Ibori
James Ibori

Some lawyers who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES are divided about what is to become of a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who was released from a United Kingdom jail, Wednesday.

A Royal Court of Justice dismissed a last ditch attempt by British Home Office to keep Mr. Ibori, whose jail term ran concurrently, in jail pending the determination of his asset forfeiture suit.

Mr. Ibori was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2012 after he pleaded guilty to laundering over £50 million.

The trial judge, Juliet May, describing the attempt of the Home Office to keep Mr Ibori in jail as unlawful and a misuse of power, ordered that the ex-governor of the oil rich state be immediately released having completely served his jail term.

Mr. Ibori is required to present himself before the police once a week as the Home office and the Crown Prosecution could not agree whether he needed to be returned to Nigeria.

The chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, Olanrewaju Suraj, said Mr Ibori, who allegedly laundered billions of naira stolen from the treasury of Delta State when he was governor between 1999 and 2007, should be immediately arrested upon his return to Nigeria and be prosecuted for offences committed here before he fled to United Arab Emirate from where he was extradited to the UK to face trial.

Mr. Suraj argued that the offence for which Mr. Ibori was imprisoned in the UK was committed against the British system and he should be held accountable, upon return, for those he committed against the Nigerian legal system.

“So for all those crimes that were committed here, and time does not run out of criminal matters, there is also the need for him to answer to those crimes. It is very important,” he said.

He said Mr. Ibori’s conviction in the UK is enough proof that he committed offences in Nigeria and should be made to answer to those offences. He said the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Ibori is an opportunity for President Muhammadu Buhari to prove the anti-corruption stance of his government.

“His conviction in the UK is more or less an affirmation that some crimes were equally committed here before they became criminal offences in the UK. So the Nigerian crimes can be answered to and that is the only thing that will reaffirm the anti-corruption stance of this government.

“There is no way the Nigerian system can pretend that everything is normal. Once he gets back into Nigeria he must also answer to those offences that were committed here leading to the prosecution in the UK.”

He said the question of double jeopardy, a legal term that describes the prosecution of a person more than once for the same offence, does not arise as the store worker turned governor was convicted for different crimes committed under a jurisdiction different from Nigeria’s.

“That is not double jeopardy because he has committed two different offences in two different jurisdictions. So the one committed in the UK is to the extent that he committed crimes based on the laws of the United Kingdom,” he said.

Similarly, the Executive Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) Debo Adeniran, said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should be dusting Mr. Ibori’s file in preparation for his return home. He said money laundering was not the only offence that the former governor committed saying he should be arrested and made to face trial for other offences.

Mr. Adeniran said Mr. Ibori fled the country before charges could be brought against him. He said upon his return, those charges he was yet to account for should be revisited and he should be prosecuted for them.

“What we should be expecting is that as soon as he gets back to Nigeria, the EFCC should have dusted the processes that they prepare before he escaped. They should dust their files and prepare as he gets back home. Once he gets back home he should be promptly arrested and be arraigned in court,” he said.

He said if upon the realisation that he will be charged at home, Mr. Ibori refuses to return to the Nigeria, the Nigerian government should approach the UK for his extradition.

“If he is reluctant at coming back home to face fresh charges, Nigerian should immediately apply to the United Kingdom under the mutual legal assistant for his extradition to come and face charges at home. It should be noted that he was convicted for money laundering in the UK and if he didn’t steal money at  home he wouldn’t launder it in the UK.

“His wife and mistress were convicted because they helped him launder money. So basically his case is a sure as proven already what is left should be just formality for him to go back to jail in Nigeria. Nobody should argue about double jeopardy.”

However, senior lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, told PREMIUM TIMES via messaging app, WhatsApp that there was no need for the Nigerian government to hound the ex-convict and prosecute him in Nigeria as it will amount to double jeopardy.

“The Federal Govt cannot, should not and must not re-arrest and prosecute Ibori again, if the fresh arrest and prosecution are based on the same facts, events and circumstances as those under which he was convicted in the UK and for which he has served his prison sentence,” he wrote.

“In law, that will amount to double jeopardy which is not only antithetical to decency and our criminal justice system, but will also tantamount to a blatant violation of section⁠⁠⁠⁠ 36(9) of the 1999 Constitution which unambiguously provides that “no person  who shows that he has been tried by any court of competent jurisdiction or Tribunal for a criminal offence and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence or for a criminal offence having the ingredients as that offence save upon the order of a superior court”.

 

“What this means is that for Ibori to be tried again on the same issues for which he was jailed in the UK, a High Court or Federal High Court has to first give the nod. I do not see that happening in this country where Ibori’s matter is quite sensitive. It will undoubtedly be viewed by all and sundry as amounting to blatant persecution, ethnic, religious and political vendetta.

“It will be a very tough and extremely hard sell by the government under whose elephantine weight Nigerians are already reeling under repressive acts. It is legally better and more politically correct to allow Ibori be, upon his return into the warm embrace of his teaming kinsmen and women.”

 

Jubilation in Delta

Meanwhile, the news of the release of Mr. Ibori has elicited wild jubilation in his home town of Oghara and the Delta State capital, Asaba.

The traditional ruler of Oghara, Ovie Orefe 11, Noble Eshimeton, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the entire people of Oghara were grateful to God for the release of their son.

“I am grateful to God for his release. I was in a traditional council meeting in Asaba when one of my subjects called me that Ibori has been released.

“He has worked for us hard and I am hopeful that his release will open a new chapter in Oghara,”

Ben Igbakpa, a former commissioner in the state, also told NAN that Mr. Ibori’s release had brought joy to the entire Oghara people especially and the entire people of Delta.

“Oghara is agog with celebration that our benefactor, leader, father and visionary had been left off the hook.

“His release is a lesson to all; it shows that no matter how long one’s torture or hard times lasts, it will one day come to an end.

“I want all Deltans to reflect on this and ask ourselves what our individual and collective tasks in the course of his travails. We should ask ourselves where we got it wrong,” Mr. Igbakpa said.

Also, the Delta State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Peter Mrakpor, told journalists in Asaba on Wednesdaythat Mr Ibori’s release was a welcome development and his contribution to nation building cannot be overemphasised.


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  • smart G

    Only if he refuses to join the APC.

  • Kevin Peter

    Trust APC, a place is already reserved for him to avoid prosecution

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  • juliet

    Nigeria should not prosecute Ibori again. Nigeria and her judicial system said James Ibori was not guilty of any wrongdoing many years ago. It took a UK court to sentence the former governor and confiscate his loot and property. As far as I am concerned,James Ibori has no case to answer. Corrupt judges in Nigeria had said he was innocent.

    • Tori Osa

      Aunty Juliet, the charges will be different. That one wey you talk na old matter. He has very many cases.

      • Osakue

        Cases full ground and I trust my president.

    • Dejandon

      He ran away when that judgment was put to appeal by the EFCC. Sorry mate, he still has to go to Kirikiri upon his return to Nigeria. In fact, UK sentencing just made it easier fo him to be found guilty here. I don’t see how any local judge will say he is innocent after all the facts used by the British court to jail him

    • Osakue

      The same judges that where raided? Any political judgement given between 1999 and 2015 is a scam. Only Jah know

  • Wilfred Bankole Ademokun

    What a shame and way of celebrating DORO BANDIT IBORI [THE BAD MAN] by the Oghara people, THIS BANDIT MUST FACE THE LAW OF THE LAND, ENGLAND IS DIFFERENT FROM NIGERIA. WELCOME TO NIGERIA DORO JAMES THE BANDIT.

  • Tori Osa

    Who is divided on that? He will be prosecuted. He escaped while being sought for investigation. That one is confirmed.

    • Osakue

      To escape justice is a crime on is own

  • Mufu Ola

    Trust Ozekhome. The solid rock of the crooked ones.

  • GusO

    Mike Ozekhome’s reasons for not prosecuting him are preposterous. He says we should let him be received by his teeming ethnic kinsmen free from further prosecution. Is that a reason not to prosecute him for pending offences before he escaped from Nigeria and also to recover the million of dollars of the money he cheated his kinsmen from using to built roads, hospitals and better schools for his people? Mr. Ozekhome is a dumb attorney.

  • Rommel

    If Nigeria is interested in fighting corruption,there is no reason why a man like James Ibori should not die in a penitentiary

    • Wise Head

      And Saints Tinubu and Amaechi should preside over his burial, since they are very clean. Indeed, APC which you work for is full of clean people. After all, Saint OBJ was the patron of the APC.

      • Rommel

        Should the people you mentioned be found guilty and convicted of such gravity of crime as committed by Ibori,why not they also,remember,Ibori was fingered in the death of Pa Alfred Rewane

        • Wise Head

          We are saying the same thing. Every criminal should not be allowed to escape justice. They must be made to suffer for their crime. For instance, St. Buhari should also tell us the source of the money for his very expensive campaign. Else, he should also be arraigned with them.

          • Rommel

            Buhari’s campaign was a tiny fraction of what the PDP did,apart from maybe the private jets used by PMB,I am not sure there is anybody that received a dime from the APC to vote in presidential elections,if there exists,let that person come out,I have been waiting for the outspoken PDP activist like Ayo Fayose and Ezenwo Nyesom Wike to also tell us the INEC people that were bribed then by maybe Amaechi and Co,all we hear are tales from drowning judges who claim that Amaechi attempted to bribe them but they stood their ground

          • Wise Head

            Tori, tori! Why is somebody called ATM in APC? May be you were newly hired, else you would have known what ATM did during the Lagos APC convention when Atiku was outspending Buhari was about to almost carry the day. Do you know how much the APC publicity cost? How much was used to engage the consulting firm of David Axelrod of Chicago to package Buhari’s Change? Not even Lai Mohammed will issue this kind of denial.

        • John A

          If ibori was in Nigeria during the campaign that brought this dullard from kastina, i can very much assure you that he won’t have been president, ask Obj about ibori before you run your mouth here.
          The likes of tinibu are little kids where ibori is operating.

          • Rommel

            If he could run away because of Dumbo,how much more Buhari,he is nothing but a common thief having been convicted twice previously in UK for larceny and grand larceny,maybe you should find out what it means ,Karma it was that hunted him down

      • Osakue

        Man guy if you are so sure about the Tinubu’s and co way not invest to secure concrete evidence so EFCC can prosecute them. You don’t have to be a policeman there is private investigation and journalistic investigation. Choose one!

    • Desmond Gbona

      DEAR SIR,

      You reported the news-story above saying,
      “…….Delta State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Peter
      Mrakpor, told journalists in Asaba on Wednesdaythat Mr Ibori’s release was a
      welcome development and his contribution to nation building cannot be
      overemphasised.
      and upon reading the chief law officer of Delta state
      that a convicted thief must be celebrated for serving a prison sentence as part
      of nation-building of a place called Delta state, I instructed my son to remove
      law from his first choice on JAMB Form and replace it with PHILOSOPHY to avoid
      his falling into the illogical mode of thought that has made Delta state a
      place of sub-humans with no thinking ability.

      • Rommel

        You know what my friend,as a little kid,I heard tales that when lawyers die,they were usually buried face down,maybe the people that started that myth have a point

      • VERITAS_ the rock of ages_

        Good Advice to your child.

    • John A

      How many of the criminals that brought Nigeria to it’s knees and enjoying their stolen loots has died in prison?
      Come to Oghara and arrest Ibori if you and your mini god has the guts.

    • thusspokez

      …die in a penitentiary

      peni…pen-in-ten…you what? UK and Nigeria call it “prison” — as do Americans. Spare us the big grammar (kiss teeth!)

  • endipin

    Was Ibori a state Governor in England? He stole Delta State money in Nigeria. Offence No. 1.
    He took stolen money to London an offence known as money laundering. Offence no. 2.
    Serving punishment for offence no. 2 do not and should not exonerate him from serving punishment for offence no. 1. Ozekhome should know that conspiracy to commit a crime and actual commission of the crime are separate and distinct offences and both are punished separately; so double jeopardy is rubbish in this instance.

    • Osakue

      Since this guy went through his kidnapping escapade his ways just suddenly change Na wa o! Abi Na fear!

      • VERITAS_ the rock of ages_

        LOL. Good reminder

  • Wise Head

    If Nigeria has a strong case against Ibori, he should be tried and jailed. There should be no doubt about that. But he must be arraigned alongside his colleagues in looting like Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi,Olusegun Obasanjo (APC Navigator), , Gen Burutai, Magu, the SGF and all the APC big time thieves. St. Buhari should also tell us the source of the money for his very expensive campaign. Else, he should also be arraigned with them.

    • ‘alutacontinua’

      @wise_head:disqus

      Ovie Orefe 11 of Oghara, Noble Eshimeton

      You are right. But my own is very simple. It is a criminal offence to aid and abet a criminal. That is the law.
      Anybody who celebrates stealing in Delta state may be liable for the offence of aiding and abetting theft.
      If there is any properly educated chief in Oghara town he or she should advise Ovie Orefe 11 of Oghara,

      The Ovie Orefe wants to turn his palace into a criminal rendezvous for a reception and beatification of thief.
      The law of Nigeria could treat him as accomplice and he may be arrested, convicted and jailed as accomplice.
      This advice should actually have come from the Ovie himself but corruption has made kings look like criminals.

      • Nonames

        “And now the conclusion seems to be inescapable in Nigeria that

        what we have as leaders in politics, business, and in the civil service,

        are common thieves in high places. The rot is so deep that stealing is

        now in the family system, in the religious system; even in friendly and

        social clubs. Everybody is looking for somebody else to steal from.”

        …….………..Muyiwa Adetiba

        (Pioneer Editor, Vanguard Newspaper)

        [June 15, 2013]

  • OGK

    All hail Ozekhome, the defender of the bandits and chief shopaholic of judgment. Time has really allowed Ozekhome to show Nigerians who he really he is- the defender of our commonwealth thieves. This time the legal patron of thieves knew that the conviction of the Ogharra thief was already a done deal only that Nigeria should not arraigned him because he represents a powerful thieving community in the country.
    Meanwhile, if the FG goes ahead,Ozekhome knows like judges like Taiwo Taiwo, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and Marcel Awokulehins of this world abound on the bench.

    • R.Ess. Kay

      Mike Ozhekome always makes me laugh but I don’t know why. Only Mike Ozekhome and Baba Suwe
      make me laugh like that, even when they have not opened their mouth to say anything. Help me thank
      both Baba Suwe and Mike Ozekhome for bringing comedy to serious matters to sort of make things light.

  • thusspokez

    Nigerians divided on whether Ibori should be prosecuted upon return to the country

    Who are these people saying that the rogue and convict Ibori should not face prosecution for crimes he committed in Nigeria?

    He should be prosecuted otherwise, I can see him returning to politics and contesting elections. Before, you say, this can’t happen after his jail term in the UK, then may I remind you of Hakeem Dickson who was convicted for fraud in the USA but was recently appointed the Director-General of the Lagos State Safety Commission. Or Buruji Kashamu who is wanted in the US but free to stand for election in Nigeria.

    • SAM .A

      He is already preparing to join APC , the Delta people will not disappoint u by electing him to represent them in the Senate .

  • thusspokez

    However, senior lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, told PREMIUM TIMES via messaging app, WhatsApp that there was no need for the Nigerian government to hound the ex-convict and prosecute him in Nigeria as it will amount to double jeopardy

    Nonsense! The “double jeopardy” rule is local to that country and is not transferable to another sovereign country.

    “The Federal Govt cannot, should not and must not re-arrest and prosecute Ibori again, if the fresh arrest and prosecution are based on the same facts, events and circumstances as those under which he was convicted in the UK and for which he has served his prison sentence,” he wrote.

    British courts do not have jurisdiction in Nigeria.

    • Julius

      well you know he is waiting to make money once he return. Its about making money because he know damn well there is no double jeopardy anywhere with Ibori. The FGN may charge him for stealing public fund not money laundering he was convicted for in the UK.

  • SAM .A

    These Journalists and their self opinionated headlines baffled me . What does Nigeria law states about an Ex Governor who looted 50% of his state budget for 8 years and ran away from being prosecuted? His sentence in London had nothing to do with his Nigeria crimes .His offense in UK was his money laundering and his credit card fraud of the past , AG should dust his file and let us have a full trial or EFCC continue from where they stopped . The criminal had BA in crimes in London , he has to complete his Master and PhD in Kirikiri Good luck to Ex convict James Ibori.

    • NwaIgbo

      Gbam! As for his people in Delta jubilating over a thief’s release-shame, shame shame brothers and relatives of an ex-convict.

    • Noble

      CORRECT AND ACCURATE!!!

  • marc umeh

    People like this Mike Ozekhome should not be allowed to practice law in Nigeria. He is certainly part of the problem.

    • thusspokez

      If Mike Ozekhome should be banned from practising law in Nigeria, it can’t and mustn’t be for being part of a problem but rather for his poor understanding of the law e.g., “double jeopardy”.

  • ken

    Early day motion 808
    Print version
    BIAFRA INDEPENDENCE
    Session: 2015-16
    Date tabled: 03.12.2015
    Primary sponsor: Elliott, Tom
    Sponsors: Kinahan, Danny Qureshi, Yasmin
    That this House recognises the calls for the independence of territories that constituted the Biafran Republic; acknowledges the Biafran issue could be improved with the co-operation of the Nigerian government by offering a referendum; and urges the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to use its diplomatic strength to assist in the resolution of this matter.
    Filter EDMs by:
    Total number of signatures: 3

    Show:Supported byWithdrawn signatures

    Showing 3 out of 3
    Name
    Party
    Constituency
    Date Signed
    Elliott, Tom Ulster Unionist Party Fermanagh and South Tyrone 03.12.2015
    Kinahan, Danny Ulster Unionist Party South Antrim 03.12.2015
    Qureshi, Yasmin Labour Party Bolton South East 21.01.2016
    Footer links

  • Paul Young

    Of course Ozekhome doesn’t think Ibori should be prosecuted again in Nigeira. No surprises there.

    • Manmbombano123

      Ozekhome is a Lawyer for Armed Robbers and Treasurer looters

  • Manmbombano123

    Shame to the brothers, sisters and relatives of this Ex Convict who are jubilating over his release. He will be coming back to loot you guys dry again. Ndi ara