James Ibori Likely To Appeal UK Conviction

James Ibori, UKLawyers to the former Governor of Delta State, Mr James Ibori, say he is likely to appeal against his conviction in the UK on grounds that the British Police and lawyers involved in his case were corrupt.

Mr Ibori’s lawyer, Ivan Krolick, told the Southwark Crown Court that the former governor was “95 percent certain” in challenging his conviction in the Court of Appeal, based on documents that have only recently been disclosed to the defence by the prosecution.

He added that the documents showed that there had been widespread police corruption followed by a cover-up that is ongoing.

The main allegation was that a police officer involved in the Ibori probe took payments for information in 2007, from a firm of private detectives working on Ibori’s behalf.

The police, however, debunked the claims, saying that the allegation was thoroughly investigated.

They maintained that no one was arrested or charged and no misconduct was identified.

Ibori, who was Governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, is serving a 13-year sentence in a British jail after pleading guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering.

His conviction in Britain was seen as a high point in efforts to fight corruption in Nigeria.

At a hearing in a London court, Ibori’s lawyers had alleged serious misconduct by Britain’s prosecuting authorities.

The allegations included failure on the part of the prosecution team to properly disclose information to the defence in relation to alleged corruption by a British police officer involved in the investigation, thereby misleading the court with false statements.

In response to the allegation, Britain’s state prosecution agency said that the conviction remained valid, in spite of evidence that a British police officer took bribes during the investigation of his case.

UK Says Ibori’s Conviction Stands Despite Bribery Evidence

Delta State, Bribery evidence, James Ibori, IboriBritain’s state prosecution agency has said that the conviction of former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, remains valid in spite of evidence that a British police officer took bribes during the investigation of his case.

Lawyers representing the jailed former governor had alleged serious misconduct by Britain’s prosecuting authorities.

The allegations include that the prosecution team failed to properly disclose information to the defence in relation to alleged corruption by a British police officer involved in the investigation, and that it made misleading statements in court.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Thursday that while the information “should have been disclosed to the defence”, that did not call into question the validity of the convictions of Ibori and others.

This is sequel to an internal review of the case which lasted months, after it (CPS) said in May that it had found “material to support the assertion that a police officer received payment in return for information”.

One of Ibori’s associates, who has been convicted of money-laundering, Bhadresh Gohil, had also alleged that the judicial process was tainted because prosecutors had covered up evidence of police corruption.

Ibori’s lawyer, Jonathan Kinnear, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the agency’s latest position. Gohil’s lawyer, however, said that he could not comment for legal reasons.

Ibori was governor of oil-producing Delta State from 1999 to 2007 and is serving a 13-year sentence in a British prison after pleading guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering.

He is the most senior Nigerian politician to have been held to account for the corruption.

His conviction in Britain was seen as a high point in efforts to fight corruption in Nigeria.

James Ibori Alleges Misconduct By British Prosecutors

Ibori-goes-to-jailLawyers representing a jailed former Governor of Delta State in southern Nigeria, James Ibori, have alleged serious misconduct by Britain’s prosecuting authorities.

The lawyers made the claim at a hearing in a London court on Monday.

The allegations include that the prosecution team failed to properly disclose information to the defence in relation to alleged corruption by a British police officer involved in the investigation, and that it made misleading statements in court.

Ibori, who was Governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, is serving a 13-year sentence in a British jail after pleading guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering.

His conviction in Britain was seen as a high point in efforts to fight corruption in Nigeria.

However, Ibori’s conviction on at least one count is now being called into question by his defence team, Judge David Tomlinson told Southwark Crown Court.

Prosecution lawyer Jonathan Kinnear, who took over the case earlier this year after the previous team stood down, said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was conducting a review into whether Ibori’s convictions were sound and expected to conclude it in August.

If the allegations of prosecutorial misconduct were confirmed and one or more of Ibori’s convictions were quashed, it would be a major embarrassment for Britain at a time when it is trying to make a big push in the fight against corruption, Reuters news agency reports.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, hosted a global anti-corruption summit in London last month in which Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, took part. Days earlier, Cameron was caught on camera calling Nigeria “fantastically corrupt”.

Ibori’s defence team have applied for Judge Tomlinson to permanently halt court proceedings on the confiscation of Ibori’s assets, which have been dragging on for years.

But the judge, having read the defence lawyers’ formal application for a stay, said that it amounted to a challenge on Ibori’s convictions, a matter that should probably be dealt with by the Court of Appeal, a higher court.

“I am being invited to trespass into matters which are beyond my jurisdiction,” he said.

Kinnear told the court the issue of how and when the defence team had disclosed information “in relation to allegations of corruption” to Ibori’s lawyers was being reviewed by the CPS.

The CPS had previously said that initial results of its disclosure review “have found that material exists to support the assertion that a police officer received payment in return for disclosing information about the investigation”.

No ruling was made at the Monday court hearing. Judge Tomlinson adjourned the case until Wednesday.

Britain To Accept More Syrian Refugees

Britain Set To Accept More refugeesThe Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, says his country will provide resettlement to “thousands” more Syrian refugees in response to the worsening humanitarian crisis. 

Although no figure has been decided, the Prime Minister said the extra refugees would come from camps bordering Syria, not from among those already in Europe.

He said that Britain would act with “head and heart” to help those most in need.

Mr Cameron also announced a further £100 million in humanitarian aid for those in camps in Syria, Turkey, Jordan and the Lebanon.

The promise is coming amidst intensified calls for the UK to take in more refugees.

The extra refugees are expected to come from UN camps bordering Syria.

No specific figure has been agreed, but Mr Cameron has previously said the UK would continue to take in “thousands”.

He is likely to make an announcement in Madrid after talks with Spanish and Portuguese leaders that had been intended to cover Britain’s proposals for EU reform.

Speaking during a visit to Portugal, the Prime Minister said: “We have already accepted around 5,000 Syrians and we have introduced a specific resettlement scheme, alongside those we already have, to help those Syrian refugees particularly at risk.

“As I said earlier this week, we will accept thousands more under these existing schemes and we keep them under review.

“And given the scale of the crisis and the suffering of the people, today I can announce that we will do more – providing resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees”.

Reacting to Mr Cameron’s remarks, UN Refugee Agency spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming said: “We welcome very much the move to increase resettlement spaces for Syrians in the UK.

“Those spaces are going to be critical to the lives and future of 4,000 people.”

Obama Studies Options After Syria Gas Attack, Consults UK’s Cameron

President Barack Obama and his top military and national security advisers hashed out options on Saturday for responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria amid “increasing signs” that the government used poison gas against civilians.

Obama spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron, a top U.S. ally, and agreed that chemical weapon use by Syrian President Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces would merit a “serious response,” a spokesperson for the prime minister said in a statement.

Syrian opposition accounts that between 500 and well over 1,000 civilians were killed this week by gas in munitions fired by pro-government forces, and video footage of victims’ bodies, have stoked demands abroad for a robust, U.S.-led response after 2 1/2 years of international inaction on Syria’s conflict.

Syria sought to avert blame by saying its soldiers had found chemical weapons in rebel tunnels. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called his Syrian counterpart on Thursday to chide the government for not allowing U.N. inspectors access to the site.

Obama has been reluctant to intervene in Syria’s civil war, but reports of the killings near Damascus have put pressure on the White House to make good on the president’s comment a year ago that chemical weapons would be a “red line” for the United States.

The United States is repositioning naval forces in the Mediterranean to give Obama the option for an armed strike.

“President Obama has asked the Defense Department to prepare options for all contingencies,” U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters in Malaysia as he began a week-long trip to Asia.

“We have done that and we are prepared to exercise whatever option – if he decides to employ one of those options.”

The White House declined to list what options were discussed on Saturday and said Washington was still gathering details about the attack.

“In coordination with international partners and mindful of the dozens of contemporaneous witness accounts and record of the symptoms of those killed, the U.S. intelligence community continues to gather facts to ascertain what occurred,” it said in a statement.

American and European security sources have said U.S. and allied intelligence agencies made a preliminary assessment that chemical weapons were used by Syrian forces in the attack. The United Nations has requested access to the site.

Obama spoke to Cameron after the White House meeting. A spokesperson for the British prime minister said the two men noted increasing signs of Syrian government culpability.

‪”They are both gravely concerned by the attack that took place in Damascus on Wednesday and the increasing signs that this was a significant chemical weapons attack carried out by the Syrian regime against its own people,” the spokesperson said.

Cameron also spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Harper spoke to French President François Hollande.

SYRIA REJECTS BLAME

Obama said in a CNN interview broadcast on Friday that chemical weapon use on a large scale would start “getting to some core national interests that the United States has, both in terms of us making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies, our bases in the region”.

But Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria’s government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Syrian state television said soldiers found chemical materials on Saturday in tunnels that had been used by rebels, rejecting the blame for carrying out a nerve gas attack.

The state news agency, SANA, said soldiers had “suffered from cases of suffocation” when rebels used poison gas “as a last resort” after government forces made “big gains” against them in the Damascus suburb of Jobar.

The leader of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba, and the head of the rebel Free Syrian Army, General Salim Idriss, denied on Saturday that rebels had used chemical weapons.

Jabra said the “most important cause” of the attack was the silence and inaction of the international community, especially the West.

Kerry called Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem on Thursday and told him the Damascus government should have let U.N. inspectors have access to the site of the alleged gas attack, a State Department official said.

“If, as they claimed, the Syrian regime has nothing to hide, it should have allowed immediate and unimpeded access to the site rather than continuing to attack the affected area to block access and destroy evidence,” the official said, referring to Kerry’s message in the call.

Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said there was growing consensus in the West that Assad’s government was responsible.

“It’s very clear, I think, that the U.S. and the Western governments think that the regime did it,” he said.

“Whether their response would immediately be military or not, I don’t know. I suspect that first they’re probably going to push for diplomacy, but probably with a pretty short fuse.”

Kerry made a series of diplomatic calls to counterparts in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey on Saturday.

In the most authoritative account so far, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said three hospitals near Damascus had reported 355 deaths in the space of three hours out of about 3,600 admissions with nerve gas-type symptoms.

A senior U.N. official arrived in Damascus to seek access for inspectors to the site of last Wednesday’s attack.

Major world powers – including Russia, Assad’s main ally which has long blocked U.N.-sponsored intervention against him – have urged the Syrian leader to cooperate with U.N. chemical weapons inspectors already in Damascus to pursue earlier allegations.

But Russia said the rebels were impeding an inquiry and that Assad would have no interest in using poison gas for fear of foreign intervention.

Alexei Pushkov, pro-Kremlin chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, said: “In London, they are ‘convinced’ that Assad used chemical weapons, and earlier they were ‘convinced’ that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It’s the same old story.”

‘RANGE OF OPTIONS’

The list of participants in the White House meeting underscored its importance. They included Vice President Joe Biden, national security adviser Susan Rice, CIA Director John Brennan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, and Samantha Power, the U.S. representative to the United Nations.

Aides said Kerry, who is on vacation in Massachusetts, and Hagel both participated remotely.

Asked whether, after that meeting, he was personally convinced chemical weapons had been used in Syria, Hagel said: “We, along with our allies, are continuing to assess the intelligence, and the specifics of that intelligence, on the use chemical weapons.

“I wouldn’t go any further than that until we have more intelligence, based on facts,” he said.

Administration officials were cautious in describing the content of the discussions and warned against expectations of a decision on Saturday.

“We have a range of options available, and we are going to act very deliberately so that we’re making decisions consistent with our national interest as well as our assessment of what can advance our objectives in Syria,” a White House official said before the meeting.

“Once we ascertain the facts, the president will make an informed decision about how to respond,” a White House official said.

A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. Navy would expand its presence in the Mediterranean to four destroyers from three.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani weighed in on the issue for the first time, saying chemical weapons had killed people in Syria, its ally. Although Rouhani stopped short of saying who he thought had used the weapons, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said evidence pointed to rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. Central Command and the Jordanian armed forces were planning to host a meeting of regional defense chiefs from Sunday to Tuesday in Jordan. The group will discuss “the region’s dynamic security environment.” The meeting was scheduled in June and not called in response to the recent attacks in Syria, a Pentagon spokesman said.