James Ibori Asset Confiscation Stuck As Judge Wants Police Corruption Riddle Resolved-The current incarceration of the former Governor of Delta State, Mr James Onanefe Ibori may be revisited with the hope of possible voiding of the final judgement that sent him into the gallows if the current allegation of perversion of justice by Police investigators handling the case is proved to be true.
It emerged during the week that a judge handling the case has called for the halt of the case of confiscation which was to commence last Wednesday.
The case of corruption by the Police had earlier been put to fore by Ibori’s team of lawyers who has accused London Metropolitan Police of bribery, double standard and insincerity during the original case of corruption against the former Governor.
James Ibori’s lead counsel, Mr Ivan Krolic, QC had urged the court to halt the ready-for-hearing confiscation proceedings because he (Krolic) wanted priority given to the Police corruption allegation case which he believed had committed Ibori to long sentence without fair justification.
The British police officer that investigated Mr Ibori for corruption and money laundering was himself alleged to be involved in corrupt practices in the course of his investigations into the original case which had committed Ibori into 13 years imprisonment.
It was also revealed that the crown prosecution was in knowledge of certain discrepancies in the investigation into Ibori’s corruption case especially during collation of evidences in the case. The officers also allegedly obtained unreliable evidences against Mr Ibori and refused to disclose such evidences due to its unreliability, making the Court to rely upon wrong perceptions and thereby misleading the conclusion and judgement in the case. Nigeria government stands to be humiliated and embarrassed where such evidence is cited inth case as the evidence was obtained from the country.
The outcome of the current development may make it possible for the justice system draw another conclusion about the current incarceration of Mr Ibori and may lead into a successfully annulment of former judgement in the case.
Last week, the Crown Court judge handling the confiscation case in London’s Southwark Crown Court, Sir Stephen Tomlinson pushed aside commencement in the confiscation of assets case as he claims he would await the report of a Review of the Police bribery, corruption and abuse of Court investigation.
Justice Tomlinson had promised in the last hearing to keep an open mind on the Police corruption allegation and promised to consider it before moving on with the confiscation case.
It has been consistently claimed by Ibori lawyers that establishes that indeed there has been failings leading to corruption on the part of the British police that investigated Mr Ibori for corruption and money laundering and erred in law as they connived with the prosecution to deliberately withhold evidence materials used against Mr Ibori in order to manipulate the court into securing a conviction against Mr Ibori’s.
James Ibori’s lead counsel, Mr Ivan Krolic, QC had urged the court to halt the confiscation proceeding as the claim into allegation of corruption in the case reach an advance stage of being authenticated in the aftermath of series of revelations that the British police officer that investigated Mr Ibori for corruption and money laundering was himself involved in corrupt practices in the course of his investigations.
It was also revealed that the crown prosecution was in knowledge of the misappropriation of the case procedure by investigating officers especially during collation of evidences in the case. The officers obtained unreliable evidences against Mr Ibori and refused to disclose such evidences, making the Court to rely upon it and thereby misled the court in securing Mr. Ibori’s conviction.
Judge Tomlinson however having initially shown some resistance to Mr Ibori’s application for stay of proceeding pending the conclusion of the Police Review concluded that that it would be more appropriate to put into consideration the Police corruption issue claiming the decision though would be creating unnecessary setback for the Court administration.
He regretted the move saying:” What do I tell the listing officer for not continuing with this proceeding adding that he needed to get a grip of the corruption case’.
He continued ‘Mr Ibori has been convicted nearly 3 years’. Krolic QC cuts in ‘4 years’. Judge Tomlinson continued ‘Mr Ibori has been convicted nearly 4 years, when does the confiscation hearing start’? Responding to the Judge’s query,
Mr Krolic said ‘This proceeding will start when the Crown completes its review into police corruption.
I ask rhetorically, could the court continue with this confiscation hearing when there is an application on abuse of court processes?
Mr Ibori’s lead counsel, Mr Krolic, observing Judge Tomlinson’s unwillingness to grant the application for a stay of proceeding said ‘We say the Crown Prosecution has manipulated this confiscation proceedings, we say the former lead Crown Prosecution Counsel made misleading statements and submissions. This hearing will not be fair unless the Review is completed and we know to what extent there has been an intent to mislead the court and the extent of corruption leading to non-disclosure of materials against Mr Ibori’.
With tension rising between the Judge and Ibori’s lead counsel, and the entire court being caught in the cross fire of arguments between Judge Tomlinson and Ibori’s lead Counsel, Mr Krolic QC, the judge, trying to manage the tension said ‘I know that your (Ibori’s defence team) position has always been that this case be litigated sooner than later, you have always opposed the crown on stay of proceeding, only for you to bring an application on Monday for a stay of proceeding, but what I need to know is how does this case going to be affected by the review? I still don’t know where we are going’.
Responding to Judge Tomlinson’s question, Mr Krolic said ‘The review into the police corruption not only concerns the safety of the conviction but also of the non-disclosure of materials used against Mr Ibori’.
Giving the background to the case, Mr Krolic said the Crown had initially relied on Assumption 72AA of the Criminal Justice Act in only some of the charges only to turn around after three weeks of proceedings when the case had been closed and submission made by all parties to inform the court that the defence team had confused them (The Crown Prosecution) and that they would now be seeking to apply Assumption 72AA across board. ‘At the closing, the Crown claimed that they were confused and the the Judge, Anthony Pitts, said he was also confused and ordered the confiscation proceedings to start afresh permitting the Crown to apply Section 72AA across board’. Krolic trying to convince the judge said ‘We say, they (Crown Prosecution) said to the Judge that they were confused and if the Court’s ruling was based on the intention by the Crown Prosecution to mislead the Court, we say that was an abuse of Court Process’.