Jun 18, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

UK returns $5.97m stolen by Nigerian ex-governor

Abuja,

Nigeria has received the sum of £4,214,017 ($5.97 million), which is loot recovered by the United Kingdomfrom former Governor of oil-rich Delta State, Mr James Ibori, who was jailed in Britainin 2012 for fraud.

Mr Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, confirmed that the West African country was credited with the Naira equivalent of the money on May 10, 2021.

Mr Ibori, 61, was Governor from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007.The Department for International Development (DfID) and Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) began investigating Mr Ibori in 2005. He was charged with 170 counts of fraud in Nigeria, butwas acquitted of all of them by a federal court in 2009.

He later fledto the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he was arrested and repatriated to the UK to face money laundering and fraud charges.

The ex-governor pleaded guilty in February 2012 to 10 offences relating to conspiracy to launder funds from the State, substantive counts of money laundering and one count of obtaining money transfer by deception and fraud.

In April 2012, he was handed a 13-year jail sentence after admitting to fraud of nearly £50 million.

The prosecutor, Sasha Wass, told the court that Mr Ibori and his associates used multiple accounts at banks to launder millions of pounds, some of which was used to buy high end real estate in London.

The court heard that Mr Ibori, once a “petty thief with his hand in the till” at the DIY store Wickes, amassed a portfolio of six properties outside Nigeria worth £6.9 million at a time he was being paid £4,000 a year as State Governor of Delta region.

The properties in London included a flat in St John’s Wood, a house in Hampstead and another in Regent’s Park. He also had a £3 million mansion in South Africa, as well as properties in Texas and in Dorset, near to where his children attended private school.

Private jet

Mr Ibori also bought a fleet of luxury cars, and in three years ran up £920,000 on his American Express Centurion card – a card only available to the super-rich, Wass told the court.

In 2005, Mr Ibori instructed a London solicitor to buy a private jet costing $20 million. He was arrested afterBritish police discovered that he had made theorder to purchase the plane.

One of Mr Ibori’s wives, Theresa, his sister Christine Ibori-Idie; mistress Udoamaka Okoronkwo and London-based solicitor Bhadresh Gohil, have all been convicted of money laundering.

Still popular

Despite a graft-tainted career and court convictions, after his releasefrom jail in 2016, Mr Ibori’s returnto Nigeria in 2017was met with celebration from a section of locals with whomhe remains popular.

Delta Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had appealed to the federal government to release the returned money to the state since it was stolen from there.

He wrote to the federal government regarding the issue just a few weeks after the UK committed to return the loot recovered.