Africa

Nigeria: Ex-governor jailed for corruption back from UK

Former powerful governor of oil-rich Delta state pledges to fight conviction and could seek office again

Rafiu Oriyomi Ajakaye   | 04.02.2017
Nigeria: Ex-governor jailed for corruption back from UK

Lagos

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS, Nigeria

A former powerful Nigerian governor convicted in Britain on charges of money-laundering and corruption returned to Abuja on Saturday after serving out half of his 13-year term in London.

The former head of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta state had been freed last December.

James Ibori arrived in Nigeria in the early hours of Saturday, according to his publicists, who said the influential politician was headed for his country home in Oghara.

But there were unconfirmed claims that Ibori was headed for the office of the secret police in the Nigerian capital, where operatives were set to grill him.

Following a five-year trial, Ibori was convicted in 2012 by a British court after he pled guilty to charges of money laundering. The British government said Ibori had stolen over $250 million from the Treasury while serving as the Delta governor from 1999 to 2007. He was said to have bought home and luxury cars with the funds in the U.K., United States, and South Africa.

Last Friday, he appeared in court for his assets forfeiture hearing.

Claiming that the British police officers who investigated him were themselves corrupt, Ibori is reportedly moving to have his conviction quashed.

Amnesty International blasted this move as an “affront to justice” and called on Britain to frustrate such efforts.

There are talks of Ibori wanting to again seek political office in Nigeria, but doing so would likely spark legal arguments over a local law that bans convicts from holding public office until 10 years after they finish their sentences.

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