EFCC to prosecute Ibori’s accomplices

Channels Television  
Updated February 28, 2012

About twenty four hours after former Delta state governor James Ibori pleaded guilty in the United Kingdom, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) here in Nigeria has vowed to ensure that all his accomplices to book no matter how long it takes.

A statement issued by the EFCC says that as recent as two weeks ago, some persons who allegedly assisted Chief Ibori to launder stolen funds were questioned by the commission

The commission adds that the interesting aspect of the development in London is the fact that the former governor avoided a full blown fraud and money laundering trial by changing his plea.

Part of the statement says ” This was purely a gambit to run away with a lighter sentence, rather than the product of a plea bargain as erroneously reported earlier….. For the avoidance doubt, plea bargain is not recognized in UK criminal justice system”.

The anti-graft body also reminds Nigerians that 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.

The former Delta State Governor; James Onanefe Ibori on Monday entered a guilty plea before a Southwark Crown Court in London where he was undergoing trial on fraud and money laundering charges.

Mr Ibori pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud, money laundering and corruption charges before judge Anthony Pitts.

Among the charges against the former governor are conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to make false instruments, and one count of money laundering linked to a $37 million share fraud surrounding the sale of shares in telecoms company, V Mobile.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass told the court that the former governor had accepted he was involved in “wide-scale theft, fraud and corruption” when he was governor of Delta state.

Mr Wass further alleged that Mr Ibori used a false date of birth when he ran for the governorship of Delta state to conceal previous convictions as a criminal record would have excluded him from taking part in the election.

The guilty plea brings to a close the long drawn legal tussle initiated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which was meant to compel the former governor to answer to the corrupt deals he carried out during the eight years he governed the state.

His accomplices – including his sister, Christine Ibie-Ibori, his associate, Udoamaka Okonkwo and his wife, Theresa Nkoyo Ibori – have already received sentences between five and eight years for aiding the former governor’s illicit activities during his two-term tenure.

His UK-based lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, was also handed down a 10-year sentence in April. He had earlier been sentenced to a 7 year sentence that runs concurrently with his more recent conviction.

In December 2009, a Federal High Court in Asaba, Delta State, discharged and acquitted Mr Ibori of all 170 charges of corruption brought against him by the EFCC.

Mr Ibori was however apprehended by Interpol in Dubai and extradited to London in 2011, where he has remained in police custody.