29 February 2012

Nigeria: EFCC Awaits Appeal Court Date On Ibori's 170 Count Charges

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it is ready to present its case before an Appeal Court in Benin city, challenging the ruling of a lower court in Asaba, Delta state that acquitted ex-governor of Delta State, James Ibori in 2009 of a 170-count corruption charge leveled against him.

The Spokesman of the Commission, Wilson Uwujaren told Daily Trust today that the anti-graft agency is waiting for a date to present its brief to the Appeal court.

"The Commission is waiting for a date for its brief of argument on the appeal to be heard. The motion in this respect was filed in January this year (2012)."

This follows the guilty plea entered by Ibori before a court of law in London, where he is being prosecuted on money laundering charges.

A statement issued by the commission yesterday said, "Sadly, it has taken five years of legal rigmarole and high drama for the former governor to own up to having committed some of the crimes for which Justice Marcel Awokulehin of the Federal High Court, Asaba, sensationally acquitted him in December 2009. The Commission challenged the ruling. That appeal is still pending before the Court of Appeal, Benin City, Edo State."

The EFCC also declared its commitment to continue the prosecution of the former governor on fresh charges of money laundering and corruption currently pending in Nigerian Courts.

"The bulk of the criminal charges against the former governor are still before courts in Nigeria and there are no plans to vacate those charges. Moreover, the former governor didn't steal alone. There were accomplices and as recent as two weeks ago, some persons who allegedly assisted him to launder stolen funds were questioned by the Commission. EFCC is determined to bring all Ibori accomplices to book, no matter how long it takes". The statement added.

The anti-graft agency also called for a repositioning of the Nigerian Judiciary to effectively tackle the scourge of corruption, "While the EFCC looks forward to the sentencing of Ibori on April 16, it is however, a matter of concern that it took the intervention of the UK criminal justice system for justice to be served in the Ibori case.

While all who worry over the effect of corruption on our nation may celebrate the Ibori guilt plea, we must all spare a thought for our judiciary, which needs urgent reform to ensure that those who loot our treasury do not get away with their loot.

Indeed, Nigerians must rally in support of the dogged efforts of the incumbent Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher to reform the judiciary for greater efficiency".

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