Metropolitan Police Chief Grilled Over Nigerian Corruption Charges  

Metropolitan Police The UK Metropolitan Police Chief, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe is to be grilled by MPs over claims that Scotland Yard and the CPS were involved in a ‘deliberate cover-up’ of evidence of police corruption.

According to the Daily Mail UK newspaper, embattled Metropolitan Police Chief, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe will be grilled by MPs next week over bombshell claims that Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service were involved in a ‘deliberate cover-up’ of damning evidence of police corruption.

The extraordinary case centres on Scotland Yard’s prosecution of a former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who once worked as a cashier at a branch of Wickes DIY store in West London before returning to Nigeria to enter politics.

A court was told that the Met and the CPS repeatedly concealed documents suggesting that officers investigating Mr Ibori for fraud were paid to leak details of the inquiry that could have helped him evade justice.

One detective was said to have received at least 19 unexplained cash deposits totalling thousands of pounds into his bank account, after illegally disclosing sensitive information, a judge heard.

Defence Lawyers Stall Babalakin’s Trial With Applications

The Chairman of Bi-Courtney Nigeria Limited, Wale Babalakin

Trial in the suit involving the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin has been stalled due to the volume of applications filed by the defendants in the suit.

This was at the High Court in Ikeja, Lagos.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, adjourned the matter till February 17, to enable parties to sort out the applications for hearing.

Justice Lawal-Akapo said that though the matter was adjourned over a month ago, some of the applications filed by the defendants were only brought to his attention some moments before the court sitting.

“In a matter of this nature, it is always good to study the processes and ask pertinent questions as the matter goes along.

“What I will suggest is that counsel sits and identify all these processes and their facts, to be sure that all the processes are filed”, he said.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC had charged Dr. Babalakin, Mr. Alex Okoh and their firms with 27 counts of illegally transferring about N4.7bn on behalf of convicted former Delta State Governor, James Ibori.

The counts instituted against the accused by the EFCC included conspiracy, retention of proceeds of a criminal conduct and corruptly conferring benefits on account of public action.

Babalakin Questions Legality Of Criminal Charge Against Him

The Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin has challenged the legality of the criminal charge filed against him and four others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before an Ikeja High Court.

He also filed an application asking the court to dispense with, his physical presence in court pending the hearing and determination of his application challenging the charges.

Mr Babalakin is facing trial alongside one Alex Okoh, a banker and three companies, Stabilini Vision Ltd, Bi-Courtney Ltd and Renix Nigeria Ltd for fraudulently transferring 4.7 billion Naira on behalf of the convicted former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

The EFCC alleged that Babalakin and his co-defendants fraudulently assisted Ibori to transfer huge sums of money through various parties to Erin Aviation account in Mauritius for the purchase of a Challenger Jet aircraft.

The defendants, who were however billed for a fresh arraignment before a new trial judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, resisted the arraignment on the basis of their pending applications challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

The former trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, has been moved to the Commercial Division of the High Court.

Mr Babalakin also refused to go into the dock, while his counsel, Mr. Wale Akoni, argued that he could not be docked until the determination of his pending application challenging the charge and the jurisdiction of the court.

The trial judge, Justice Lawal-Akapo, ruled in favour of Mr Babalakin and subsequently extended the same ruling to the co-defendants after an application by their counsel.

The court directed the Police and the EFCC not to re-arrest Mr Babalakin because the bail earlier granted to him by the former trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, was still in force.

The judge also ordered the EFCC to release Mr Okoh’s international passport to enable him embark on two business trips between December 2013 and January 2014. He is to return the international passport to the EFCC not later than January 30, 2014.

Further hearing in the case has been fixed for the January 20, 2014 for the hearing of all pending applications.

Court Awards Ibori Bribe Money To Federal Government

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has awarded the ownership of the $15 million former Delta state governor, James Ibori bribe money to the federal government.

The court averred that the Delta state government failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the money belongs to it.

The Delta state government claimed ownership of the money allegedly given by Mr. Ibori,  as bribe to stave-off arrest by former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

The EFCC had in July 2012 approached the court through an ex- parte application, requesting for an
order forfeiting the Ibori bribe which had been lying in the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria for more than five years to the Federal Government as unclaimed proceed of crime.

The EFCC had urged the court to dismiss the claim by the Delta State government to the alleged bribe and order the final forfeiture of the sum to the Federal Government in line with the provisions of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.

 

Ibori Tried To Bribe Me With $15 Million, Ribadu Tells Court

Desperate to halt a probe into his finances, Nigerian governor James Ibori tried to bribe former anti-corruption boss Nuhu Ribadu in 2007 with $15 million in cash in a bag so heavy one man alone could not lift it, Ribadu told a London court on Thursday.

Ribadu said he pretended to take the bribe because he wanted the cash as evidence to use against Ibori in a prosecution, but rather than keep the money for himself he had it taken straight to the Central Bank of Nigeria to be kept safe in a vault.

Ribadu told the court that about $1 billion flowed from federal government accounts into Delta State coffers during Ibori’s eight years in power, and he estimated Ibori had stolen or wasted more than half of that amount.

The charges to which Ibori pleaded guilty amount to the theft of about $80 million, but British prosecutors say that was only part of his total booty, which was kept hidden via a complex web of shell companies, offshore accounts and front men.

Ribadu, who was chairman of  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from April 2003 to December 2007, was giving evidence at a confiscation hearing in which prosecutors are seeking court orders to have Ibori’s assets seized.

Under Nigeria’s constitution, state governors enjoy immunity from prosecution but are limited to two terms in office. With the end of his second term looming in April 2007, Ibori was worried the EFCC were planning to prosecute him, Ribadu said.

“He was very desperate to terminate the investigation,” he told the court.

In late April 2007, a meeting was arranged between the two men at a “neutral place”, the house of Andy Uba, a close associate of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Ibori arrived at the house with several members of his staff and a very large black sack containing $15 million in cash. Ribadu said he watched as two of Ibori’s men lifted the heavy sack and handed it over to his own EFCC staff. “It was a bag that an individual could not carry alone,” he said.

The EFCC men drove the bag to the central bank where the money was counted and boxed into smaller containers. The court was shown photographs of the boxes of cash.

“I have given you money Nuhu, just give me my clearance,” Ribadu quoted Ibori as telling him after those events.

Instead, the EFCC continued to investigate Ibori’s affairs and had him arrested on corruption charges on December 12, 2007.

It will be recalled that the Delta state government had approached the court asking that the money belonged to the state government and should therefore be returned to the state. The EFCC are however opposed to the return of the money to the state.

The EFCC says that “that the said sum of $15 Million cannot be traced to any account owned or being operated by the Delta State Government or any of its agencies and officials”.

Ibori Claimed 30 Per Cent Shares In Oando, British Prosecutor Tells Court

Jailed former governor of Delta state, James Ibori told a Swiss private bank in 2004 that he owned 30 percent of oil firm Oando, which paid $1.2 million into his account that year, a prosecutor told a British court on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass told Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday that in 2004, Ibori had opened an account at Lugano-based PKB in the name of a shell company called Stanhope Investments.

Quoting from internal PKB documents, Wass told the court that Ibori had presented himself to the bank as the owner of an insurance company, half of a bank and 30 percent of Oando.

Oando said on Monday that Ibori had only an “insignificant” holding in the firm.

Reuters reported that details of Ibori’s assets and how he kept them hidden from the public gaze through a web of shell companies and foreign bank accounts are being disclosed as part of a three-week confiscation hearing which began in London on Monday.

Ibori was jailed for 13 years in Britain after pleading guilty in February 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering worth 50 million pounds.

 

Ibori’s $15m Bribe: Court Strikes Out Motion To Stop Case

The Court of Appeal has struck out a motion seeking to stop a Federal High Court in Abuja from further hearing the ownership tussle of the $15million said to have been offered as bribe by former Delta State Governor, James Ibori.

The motion was struck out by Justice Amiru Sanusi for being defective and incompetent.

A Lagos based litigant, Olalekan Bayode had brought a motion to the appellate court seeking to stop Justice Gabriel Kolawole from the legal action on the money said to have been offered to former EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu as bribe to compromise in the probe of James Ibori.

Olalekan Bayode had earlier at the High Court applied to be appointed as manager of the $15million to be used for widows and orphans.

Justice Kolawole on November 23, 2012 dismissed the application on the grounds that it was baseless, frivolous and that the said Olalekan didn’t show sufficient reason why the said money should be released to him.

Not satisfied, Olalekan went to the Appeal Court to appeal against the ruling of the High Court.

By striking out the motion seeking to stop the court from further hearing the case, the coast is clear for the proceeding at the High Court to continue and Olalekan Bayode can appeal his case.

The motion was filed on behalf of Olalekan by John Olufemi Aina, a UK based practitioner.

Money Laundering: Ibori Loses Appeal Over 13-Year Jail Term

Delta State, Bribery evidence, James Ibori, IboriThe jailed former Delta State governor, James Ibori, lost a legal appeal on Thursday against a 13-year prison sentence for embezzling more than $250 million.

Mr Ibori, a founding member of Nigeria’s ruling party and a behind-the-scenes kingmaker who ran Delta State for 8 years, was trying to get his sentence reduced. His lawyers argued that the original judge had indicated the term would be shorter.

Judge Antony Edwards-Stuart rejected that argument at the appeal hearing and also said that money laundering should attract close to the maximum 14-year sentence.

Mr Ibori pleaded guilty to 10 charges of fraud and money-laundering in February 2012 and is the most prominent Nigerian politician to be successfully prosecuted for corruption.

The former governor’s case was heard in London after prosecutors argued that, although much of the activity in question took place in Nigeria, some money did pass through Britain and British banks.

During his trial last year, a London court heard the stolen fortune was used to buy six foreign property and a fleet of cars, although the judge said the total amount stolen may in fact be “in excess of 200 million pounds”.

The biggest single fraud involved misappropriating $37 million in fees when Mr Ibori’s Delta State sold its stake in the Nigerian mobile telecoms company V Mobile.

The Ibori case was heralded as a major success for London’s police, with Britain long seen as a destination of choice for corrupt Nigerian politicians to spend their ill-gotten gains.

Mr Ibori, who was elected governor of Delta in 1999 during Nigeria’s transition from military to civil rule, could still play a prominent role in Nigerian public life on his release.

Eligible for parole halfway through his jail term, he is likely to be out of prison in 3-1/2 years, having served a year since the trial, a year beforehand awaiting trial in London and a year in Dubai from where he was extradited to Britain.

Appeal Against Ibori’s Jail Sentence Holds On Thursday

Convicted former Delta state governor, James Ibori is set for the courts on Thursday, after he filed an appeal to have his prison term slashed.

The case at the Royal Courts of Justice on the strand, London will be heard by Lord Justice Tracy and Mr. Justice Edwards-Stuart.

Mr. Ibori was sentenced to 14 years in jail by a Southwark Crown Court Judge in 2012 after he pleaded guilty to stealing about $250 million which he laundered through banks in the United Kingdom.

James Ibori’s sister, Christine, his wife, Theresa and his mistress, Udoamaka, were also convicted and jailed for five years each for acting as accomplices.

The former state governor on the 27th of February, plead guilty to 10 counts of money laundering and fraud totaling £50milion.

Money Laundering: Court Releases Babalakin Travelling Document

A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja on Thursday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to release the travelling documents of the Chairman, Bi-Courtney Highway Services, Wale Babalakin.

The Chairman of Bi-Courtney Nigeria Limited, Wale Babalakin

Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo gave the order in a ruling on application by the Bi-Courtney boss seeking permission to travel to South Africa to treat hypertension and other unspecified ailments.

The judge however ordered that Mr Babalakin must return the passports to the custody of the EFCC before 27 March a date already set aside by the court to hear the applications by the Bi-Courtney Boss seeking to quash the charges against him.

The Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, did not oppose the application for the release of the travel document; he merely urged the court to ensure that the defendant was not being allowed to travel to a country where he could easily abscond from trial.

Mr Babalakin and his co-defendants are facing charges of fraudulently aiding convicted former Delta State Governor, James Ibori to transfer N4.7 billion to Mauritius between May and December 2006.

Facing the 27 counts along with Mr Babalakin are Alex Okoh and three firms, Stabilini Visioni Limited, Bi-Courtney Limited and Renix Nigeria Limited.

The second defendant, Mr Okoh is also said to have a similar application pending before the court for the release of his passports to travel abroad. It’s not certain yet when he will be arguing his application.

Court Denies Babalakin’s Plea To Sit Outside Dock

A Lagos High Court presided over by Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo today denied the chairman of Bi-Courtney, Mr. Wale Babalakin his plea to sit outside the dock during the resumption of his trial over money laundering.

Justice Onigbanjo also ordered Mr. Babalakin to consolidate into one, two applications filed seeking to quash the charges against him.

Mr. Babalakin and 4 others are facing a 27-count charge of allegedly laundering about N4.7 billion on behalf of the convicted former governor of Delta State, James Ibori under the guise of purchasing a Challenger Jet Aircraft.

The judge’s ruling followed arguments from Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, the lead counsel to Mr. Babalakin, and Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, the counsel to the EFCC.

When the proceedings commenced, Mr. Fagbemi (SAN) made a peculiar request asking presiding Justice Onigbanjo to allow his client leave the dock and sit in or near the bar.

The counsel quoted Section 210 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos, 2011. The section provides that “where a defendant appears before the court on a summons, he may be required to enter the dock, stand or sit adjacent to it as may be ordered by the court”.

But the counsel to the EFCC, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Jacobs, opposed the request. For him, the section did not refer to sitting in the outer or inner bar with the other lawyers. The prosecution stressed that justice must be seen to be done to all and not to the status of one.

Justice Onigbanjo, however, held that the section of the law refers to a defendant who appears before the court on a summons and not one like Mr. Babalakin who appeared before the court on information.

The defendant was, therefore, ordered to remain in the dock.

On the arguments on the applications filed by Mr. Babalakin to quash the charges against him, Justice Onigbanjo noted that there were two of such applications seeking the same objective.

While the defence counsel, Mr. Fagbemi insisted that they had different grounds, the prosecution countered by saying that it was an abuse of court process and a move aimed at delaying the trial. He, therefore, urged the court to strike out one of the applications.

The arguments went back and forth for almost 30 minutes on the propriety of taking the two applications seeking the same relief.

After listening to the arguments and the submissions of other lawyers in the matter, Justice Onigbanjo ordered the defendants to consolidate their applications.

He then adjourned the case till the 27th of March.

Supreme Court Throws Out EFCC’s Appeal On Ibori

The Supreme Court has struck out an appeal filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

While striking out the appeal, the presiding Judge, Justice Mahmud Mohammed said that the appeal has turned into an academic exercise.

The apex court noted that matters that border on the discretion by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in assignment of cases cannot be appealed.

Chief Godwin Obla, who announced appearance for the EFCC had earlier announced that he was withdrawing the appeal on behalf of the commission.

Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Joseph Daudu (SAN), who announced his appearance for Ibori did not object to the application.

The EFCC had gone to the Supreme Court in Abuja to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal, Kaduna which held that Ibori should be tried in Asaba over the 107 count of money laundering and not in Kaduna.

Mr Ibori is currently imprisoned in the United Kingdom for money laundering.