The Dubai court of First Instance has ruled that the former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, be transferred to authorities in the United Kingdom, saying he has “a case to answer in the UK.”
The court ruled that Mr Ibori should be extradited to the United Kingdom to face charges of money laundering, credit card fraud and official theft.
Mr Ibori, who was arrested in the Emirate by the International Police (INTERPOL) in May this year following his elope from Nigeria now has 30 days to file for and receive an appellate decision.
He was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly mismanaging N528 million shares of Delta State in Oceanic Bank a month before his arrest in the UAE after evading arrest in Nigeria. A warrant of arrest was also issued on him by the UK Metropolitan Police for money laundering.
Mr Ibori’s sister, Christine Ibie-Ibori, and his mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo (nee Onuigbo) have already being successfully prosecuted in the UK, for helping the former governor move an estimated £70 million worth of looted funds through several London banks. Both women are serving jail terms in a UK prison.
The two-time former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori for sometime had faced extradition processes to tha United Kingdom to face court over fraud and money laundry among other charges.
Many of the financial crimes had been committed as Ibori ‘s link with several British banks had revealed illegal financial deals using lawyers, relatives and close associates.
The judge, had concluded the hearing of the case last Sunday and had reserved judgment till Sunday October 17.
“The case took so long because the UK Metropolitan police had to translate an avalanche of evidence and affidavits to make a solid case about Ibori’s culpability in money laundering and thus make a strong application for Ibori’s extradition to London,” camed an online report.
The UK police also made references to the successful trial of two female associates of Ibori in London, which has so far led to the jailing of Ibori’s sister, Christine Ibie-Ibori and his mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo, for money laundering. Both women are serving prison terms at the all-female Holloway prison in London.
Ibori was arrested in Dubai on May 13, 2010. The Economic and Financial crimes Commission, EFCC accused him of stealing $290 million about N43.5 billion.
Last April, his supporters attacked the police, who tried to arrest him in his home town. He however sneaked to Dubai where he was arrested by the UAE authorities.
The UK police also cited the ongoing trial of Ibori’s wife, Theresa Nkoyo and his UK lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil and pointed out that the case was progressing well before the Southwark Crown Court and was likely to lead to the conviction of Ibori’s wife and his lawyer on the basis of the evidence before that court.
In one of the affidavits filed, the UK police also urged the Dubai court to extradite Ibori to the UK to enable him face trial for converting V-Mobile shares belonging to Delta State Government, proceeds of which were also laundered through UK banks and also involved UK citizens.
In his defense, Ibori pleaded that his departure from Nigeria and subsequent arrest in Dubai was due to political persecution by President Goodluck Jonathan. His strongest defense was the ruling given by Justice Marcel Awokulehin of the Federal High Court in Asaba, which dismissed all charges of money laundering against him.