Despite conviction, Ibori vows to remain in politics

James Ibori

A former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who was recently released from a British prison where he served a jail term for corruption, has indicated his plan to rejoin politics upon his return to Nigeria.

Mr. Ibori, who ruled the oil rich state between 1999 and 2007, said he would not quit politics until his death.

“What happens in African politics – you are in it until you die,” he told Reuters in London after a court hearing on Tuesday.

“I am a politician, I will always be a politician. I play the politics in my party and in my country for the good of my people.”

Mr. Ibori, however, said he would not contest any elective position again because he had been barred for 10 year because of his conviction.

He gave indication that he would appeal against the conviction.

Mr. Ibori was in court as part of the ongoing legal proceedings in his case.

He had left prisons in December after serving half of his 13 year jail term, taking into account pre-trial detention.

His freedom elicited jubilation and celebration in his political camp, especially in Delta State.

Reuters reported that a video later surfaced on YouTube of Mr. Ibori being feted in London by supporters, including a serving senator who said, to cheers, that the former governor had “made” the careers of several prominent Nigerian politicians while in prison.

According to the news medium, Mr. Ibori declined to state if it was true.

“The prison telephone is meant for keeping in touch….so you can integrate when you come out,” the former governor said.

Reuters reports that the appeal is based on an allegation by an associate of the former governor that a British police officer had taken bribes in return for information on the case before the former governor was convicted and that prosecutors had covered it up.

The police say it investigated the allegation though no arrest was made neither were any charges preferred.

It also reported the state prosecution service as saying that material supporting the allegations exists and it initially failed to disclose that to Mr. Ibori’s defence team, but that it is confident his (Ibori) conviction remains valid.

Mr. Ibori, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, was arraigned in Southwack Crown Court in February 2012, for laundering about $250 million believed to have been stolen from the coffers of Delta State.

He pleaded guilty to a 10-count charge of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.

He was subsequently jailed on April 17, 2012 for 13 years.

While in prison, Mr. Ibori was still remotely dictating the political tune in his native Delta State where his maternal cousin, Emmanuel Uduaghan, had succeeded him as governor in 2007.

Mr. Uduaghan served until 2015.

The current governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, served in the Ibori administration as commissioner before he was elevated to the position of secretary to the state government in the Udughan administration.

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