A London Court is set to sentence former Delta State governor, James Ibori, today. The beleagured ex-governor who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud and money laundering charges to the tune of $250 million could face up to 10 years in jail, reports say.James Ibori appeared at the Southwark Crown Court today where he will learn his fate. Reports say an emaciated looking Ibori had entered the court room clad in a dark suit and sporting a gold watch. He had gestured to his family and friends upon entering the court room, apparently reassuring them.
The ex-governor’s family weren’t the only ones who showed up in court for him, however. According to Sahara Reporters, a crowd of supporters had gathered outside the London court in a show of solidarity for Ibori.
The supporters soon got rowdy however, stirring trouble and even harassing the prosecutor in Ibori’s case. According to Sahara Reporters, there was a scuffle when court staff ordered the supporters to retreat from the open hallway and wait until their names were called from the list.
The supporters refused and at some point one of them shoved the prosecutor. Uniformed police officers were called in to clear the supporters.
Police have just been brought in to clear Mr. Ibori’s supporters from the entrance of the court room premiumtimesng.com
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According to the UK Press Association, the sentencing hearing is expected to last two days. Kicking off the proceedings, the prosecutor began by enumerating the beleaguered politician’s alleged crimes.
In a prior short submission before the court, Prosecutor Sasha Wass, QC, said the prosecution had not pursued the Ibori cas further as the accused “accepted the entirety of the prosecution’s case as it has always been set out.”
Speaking today, she said the total sum embezzled through fraud and money laundering cannot be quantified.
In Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission expressed happiness that the ex-governor admitted his guilt. They have also vowed to try Ibori again after he has served out his sentence in London.
EFCC spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the UK conviction is a vindication for the commission after a Federal High Court in Asaba acquitted the governor of all charges the EFCC had levelled against him in 2009.
“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 spokesman added that while the crime fighting commission joins a majority of Nigerians in celebrating Ibori’s conviction and sentencing, he is worried about how this justice was served.
“While all who worry over the effect of corruption on our nation may celebrate the Ibori guilty 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.
“Now that Ibori has owned up to his crime, the commission is mindful of the concern in some quarters as to what becomes of his case with the EFCC. Will he be arrested and tried again on the completion of his jail term in London?
“Or, will the EFCC close the Ibori case? For the benefit of stakeholders and lovers of justice, it is interesting to note that the offences for which Ibori faces imminent jail term in London is only a minute aspect of the bouquet of offences committed by the former governor during his eight-year rule in Delta State.”
More details on the sentencing to come…