Former Delta State Governor James Ibori yesterday launched an appeal against his conviction in London, alleging corruption in the ranks of British police.
Ibori spent years in United Kingdom jails after pleading guilty to laundering a stolen fortune in Britain. At stake are about 90 million pounds ($130 million) of the former governor’s assets, which have been frozen for years.
The British authorities aim to confiscate them and return them to the Nigerian government, but if Ibori’s conviction were overturned he would regain control of them. The appeal hearing, being held before three judges at London’s Court of Appeal, is due to last three days.
Ibori was released from jail in December 2016 after serving half of his 13-year sentence, as is normal in Britain, and he returned to Nigeria in February 2017. He has re-emerged in public life there and been feted at various events.
He was due to give evidence yesterday via video-link from Nigeria, and he appeared briefly on a screen in court, but the connection was lost and could not be restored. The court was told a power cut in Nigeria was the reason for the glitch. The judges instructed that a new attempt be made to establish a video-link to Ibori today.
His conviction in 2012, after he admitted 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering, was a rare example of a big player in Nigerian politics being held to account for the corruption that has blighted Africa’s most populous nation.
But Ibori’s lawyers allege that one of the British police officers who investigated him took bribes in 2007 from a private detective, hired by a British law firm working for Ibori, in return for inside information about the police investigation.