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“I didn’t plead guilty to corruption charges – Ibori” – Vanguard

Former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, who is facing a 10-count charge of stealing, money laundering and corruption at a London court, yesterday, denied pleading guilty to corruption charges.

Ibori, in a statement signed by his media assistant, Mr Tony Eluemunor, also explained why he pleaded guilty to money laundering charges, saying: “Ibori did not want a long-drawn trial where Nigeria’s name would be bandied about in a foreign court.”

According to Eluemunor, “the world was made to believe that Ibori’s guilty plea was a sudden turn around and not a well-deliberated act that was part of a plea bargain deal. But it is on record that several Nigerian newspapers of last Sunday published different versions of that story; that Ibori would plead guilty as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

“Of course, that plea bargain deal would only kick in with Ibori’s pleading guilty, which he did on Monday. After that plea, which had been successfully foretold by Nigerian newspapers, both the prosecution and the defence counsel were to return on April 16 and 17 to make their needed statements.

Unfortunately, while Ibori’s lead counsel stayed true to this time-tested legal procedure, the prosecution counsel went rogue and began to make wild and unfounded statements aimed at nothing but self-glorification and Ibori’s demonisation.

“What was not clear to Nigerians was that the prosecution lawyers were labouring at damage control as the publication in several Nigerian newspapers of last Sunday had leaked out the secret that the seven-year investigation against Ibori had not only cost the British taxpayer £14 million but was funded by the DfID —the Department of Foreign Development.

The visit of London Metropolitan Police

“The prosecution then laboured hard to justify the money spent and stave off another official inquiry into the much investigated London Metropolitan Police, that have been accused often of grave misdeeds.

Consequently, the London Metropolitan Police invited droves of media agencies and several statements to justify their jamborees in the sun, whereby agents visited the far-flung corners of the earth with little to show for their efforts.

“They even visited Nigeria three times, and lowly policemen who had never shaken hands with their British superiors had dinner with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in the deep recesses of Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja. Some of the statements were contradictory; some totally wild and even insane.

“Worst of all, several foreign media quoted the London Police list of landed property they claimed belonged to Ibori, that they promised to confiscate. But anyone who has followed the cases concerning Ibori’s sister and Udoamaka Okoronkwo would have noticed that some of the same buildings featured prominently there. The truth is that what is at stake in London for now is just about three average buildings, finish.

What matters

“What matters to Ibori is that all corruption charges were dropped by the London Police for lack of evidence. Any claim that any corruption charge he is facing is pure propaganda. He did not plead guilty to any corruption charge.

With the corruption charges removed because they could not be proved beyond any reasonable doubt, the Police stayed with money laundering charges, to be proved by nothing but inference — the convincing of a jury of white persons. No proof, no evidence would be needed then, no documentary truths would be established.

“The British and the Nigerian establishments have been driving this case to a pre-determined end, and a battle weary Ibori was advised to plead guilty, end what had promised to be a long-drawn trial, and begin to rebuild his life which had been tossed about in an ocean of legal controversy and trials because of politics— since 2003, that is nine long years ago. Also, Ibori did not want a long-drawn trial where Nigeria’s name would be bandied about in a forign court.”

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