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Understanding what’s going on in the Ibori London trial

“If Ibori was said by the papers to have stolen $250m, or that he had even pleaded guilty to stealing that amount, then why on earth did the Home Secretary talk about “ALLEDGED” £18m?”

“What’s going on?” The late African-American soul-brother, Marvin Gaye, asked that question in a 1971 song that became a monster hit on Tamla Motown label and sold over two million copies, becoming Gaye’s second-most successful Motown song.

While that song was born of incredulity and amazement at government brutality (against American university students who were protesting against Vietnam War); astonishment at the deep misinformation on the Ibori London case, launched this article. 

The trial entered a most critical stage on Wednesday December 21, 2016, when the former Delta State Governor won the most significant victory to date, in that long lingering and totally knotty, intricate, and so confusing, court trial.  

Instead of journalists rising up to the occasion and meet the responsibilities news organizations owe their hapless leaders, a large number of them failed woefully in that task as they allowed politics and other ignoble considerations to trump the need to inform the public, and place issues in their real perspective.

For instance, what on earth could have made a newspaper as highly regarded as the PUNCH not to notice the incongruities in its report of that court session on Thursday December 22, entitled : “Ibori Freed, FG begins ex-Delta Governor’s extradition process”, to offer its readers a trailer load of contradictions? 

On line 10, the highly respected paper wrote: “the ex-Governor pleaded guilty to stealing $250 million from the Delta State treasury”. 

But on line 23, it wrote “UK Home Secretary Amber Rod did not intend to deport Ibori to Nigeria until he handed over £18 million, proceeds of crime he alleged the ex-Governor held”. 

So how much was Ibori alleged to have stolen? 

If Ibori was said by the papers to have stolen $250m, or that he had even pleaded guilty to stealing that amount, then why on earth did the Home Secretary talk about “ALLEDGED” £18m? 

When was the amount reversed down? By who? Why? And what does the word “alleged” mean?

Yet, if as the papers reported that the British Home Office had wanted to confine Ibori in indefinite detention until the confiscation hearing had been fully heard, it means confiscation hearing had not been concluded. 

And that, too, means that no amount of money has been ordered by any court for Ibori to forfeit. 

Do journalists know that it is a fact of life that one confiscation hearing ended September 2013 (and that is no misprint) and no single evidence was proffered in court to prove that Ibori stole a Kobo from Delta State government coffers? 

Then, after both parties – Prosecution and Defence – had made their final submissions, and no evidence of stealing emerged, Judge Anthony Pitts, ordered a retrial, instead of delivering a judgment, to enable Police search for new evidence.  

That was in 2013 for goodness sake and since then; the new confiscation hearing has yet to even begin.

Yet, other issues have been thrown up by that PUNCH report, which said that EFCC sources confirmed to the paper that Nigeria had already commenced repatriation proceedings against Ibori. 

And I ask, if Nigeria is anxious of repatriating stolen funds, then why would she want Ibori deported when the confiscation hearing against him has not even started? 

Yet, the Justice Minister, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, should know what confiscation hearing entails, and that without it, no money would be repatriated. 

Or do some people fear that Ibori will win that appeal and so they want him taken out of Britain, so as to frustrate his efforts in fighting the appeal and have his conviction quashed? I don’t believe in such conspiracy theories under Buhari’s presidency.  

So, I cast my votes thus: Britain was misled into believing that Ibori had no other sources of income and had trumpeted that information from the roof tops. 

What exactly is going on? 

The answer is that suddenly, the hunters have become the hunted as the British Police investigators and the Prosecution officials that were arrayed against Ibori have been so deeply indicted that they have all been dropped from the case. 

Also, a lawyer, Mr. Stephen Kimlish said openly on London-based Ben TV interview:

“Well, the fact is that most times, people plead guilty for the wrong reasons. 

“What I can say is that when there is (Police) corruption on this huge scale and in the background of the case, I’m involved in this case, the British law says that even if you pleaded guilty or not, your guilty plea can be quashed because the British public can’t discountenance such major corruption in a common investigation, therefore, whether you plead guilty or you plead not guilty, your conviction can be quashed. So in this case that is what we are currently aiming for. 

“As for Bhadresh Gohil, I am going for quashing”! 

Did Ibori have other sources of income while he was Governor?  Page 14 of the 44-page paper filed by the London Metropolitan Police, against Ibori in court, item 81, on MER Engineering states: 

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