20 March 2017

Nigeria: Ibori Files Appeal in UK to Upturn His Conviction

Former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, has now filed an appeal in the British Court of Appeal against his 2012 conviction.

A statement from Ibori's Media Assistant, Tony Eluemunor, said Ibori's counsel informed the Southwark London court at the weekend that they have filed the appeal on Ibori's behalf.

As a result, the court then indefinitely adjourned the on-going proceedings concerning the second confiscation hearing. The original three-week confiscation hearing before Judge Pitts in September 2013 was unable to make any finding of theft against him.

The British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has, since February 2016, been undertaking a mammoth disclosure exercise and so far substantial material evidencing the police corruption and misconduct has been disclosed. The CPS has gagged the media from reporting on this.

David Rose of the London Mail and Sunday newspaper as well as other reporters have made applications in open court for the release of this material. Rose, for instance, argued that it is in the public interest to do so, as Ibori and linked cases are said to have been corrupted by Metropolitan Police, prosecution misconduct and significant non-disclosure of key materials which undermined the convictions.

For instance, a BBC report of July 2, 2016, titled: 'Ibori lawyer awarded £20,000 by Crown Prosecution Service' mentioned police and prosecution's misbehaviour as well as their massive misleading of the courts.

According to the report, "The extraordinary payment is just the latest twist in a legal case that has led to investigations into allegations of police corruption and a cover-up of key evidence."

The BBC report continued: "In May 2016, the CPS acknowledged that it had intelligence that 'supports the assertion' that a Metropolitan Police officer was paid for information.

"On June 7, 2016, Stephen Kamlish QC, representing Bhadresh Gohil, submitted further corroboration of the serious misconduct by the prosecutors in the case - Sasha Wass QC and Esther Shutzer-Weissman - and how both knowingly conspired to pervert the course of justice by orchestrating a cover-up of the corruption and their own past misconducts. However, the most shocking episode concerns the willful misleading of the Court of Appeal in the Gohil appeal of 2014. When main stream British media, The Times, Guardian, Sun, Telegraph among others focused public interest on the misconducts, the National Crime Agency (NCA) conducted an inquiry.

"Mid-September 2016, the NCA's report appeared; it confirmed that police officers, working within the elite Department for International Development-funded Police Unit, were corrupt, and had withheld substantial material from the defence teams, but bizarrely stated that the convictions of Ibori and others, including Bhadresh Gohil are safe - though obtained through acts that clearly fall below the high standards of the British legal system."

This conclusion, according to the statement, will now be challenged by the appeal process, not only by Ibori but also by all other defendants.

Most of all, in a London-based Ben TV interview, Mr. Lambertus de Boer, one of the bankers jailed in the case, had dropped this bombshell that "DfID entered into an agreement with the Nigerian authorities in 2005, claiming the first £25 million from all funds recovered during confiscation proceedings from Ibori and Ibori linked cases... would be paid to DfID before a penny is returned to Nigeria".

Commenting on this disclosure, a Nigerian newspaper commentator said: "So, a treasure hunt is on. No wonder the Crown Prosecution Service's (CPS) public statements have been exceptionally misleading. DfID/CPS has repeatedly claimed that some $250 million was alleged to have been stolen by Ibori from Delta State."

But at the 2013 Ibori confiscation hearing at Southwark Crown Court, it became clear that Judge Anthony Pitts, having heard the underlying evidence, was unable to make any such findings in relation to the DfID/POCU allegations. So, the judge could not deliver a ruling instead, he ordered a new trial even though the prosecution and the defence had made their final submissions."

De Boer, who has maintained his innocence, claimed that he is a victim of the same DfID-funded corrupt Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and Crown Prosecution as was Bhadresh Gohil, a co-defendant in the V-Mobile transaction and have appealed against their convictions. "My appeal is based not only on the staggering police corruption but also given the heretofore non-disclosed material which clearly demonstrates the absence of any fraud/money laundering in the V-Mobile Case, it is now clear that prior to the commencement of the original December 2010 V-Mobile trial, we were denied proper disclosure," De Boer explained.

Ibori's appeal is expected to follow the arguments Gohil and De Boer opened even as it will open several new ones. The truth will now all unravel.

Nigeria

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