EFCC: ‘Ibori Will Still Be Tried In Nigeria’

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EFCC: ‘Ibori Will Still Be Tried In Nigeria’

EFCC: ‘Ibori Will Still Be Tried In Nigeria’

Following yesterday’s sensational guilty plea by former Delta State governor James Ibori in a London courtroom, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has stated that it still intends to try him in Nigeria.

In a statement signed by the commission’s Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC pointed out that the offences for which Ibori faces imminent jail term in London are but “a minute aspect of the bouquet of offences” he committed during the eight years he ruled Delta State.

“The bulk of the criminal charges against the former governor are still before courts in Nigeria and there are no plans to vacate those charges,” it said.

The Commission noted that Ibori did not steal alone, and that as recently as two weeks ago, it questioned some persons who allegedly assisted him to launder stolen funds, and underlined its determination to bring all of his accomplices to book, no matter how long it takes.

“The interesting aspect of the development in London is the fact that Ibori chickened out of a full blown fraud and money laundering trial by changing his plea,” the statement said.  “This was purely a gambit to run away with a lighter sentence, rather than the product of a plea bargain as erroneously reported earlier in sections of the media.”

The EFCC regretted that it has taken five years of “legal rigmarole and high drama” for the former governor to own up to having committed some of the crimes for which Justice Marcel Awokulehin of the Federal High Court, Asaba, acquitted him in December 2009, the subsequent appeal of which is still pending before the Court of Appeal in Benin City.

The Commission said it was a matter of concern that it took the intervention of the UK criminal justice system for justice to be served in the Ibori case. “While all who worry over the effect of corruption on our nation may celebrate the Ibori guilty plea, we must all spare a thought for our judiciary, which needs urgent reform to ensure that those who loot our treasury do not get away with their loot,” it said, and called for support of the “dogged” efforts of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, to reform the judiciary.

It said it was awaiting the sentencing of Ibori andthe repatriation of the funds stolen from the treasury of Delta State government.  “That will be some just reward to Nigerians for the efforts and resources that have been committed to the corruption and money laundering investigation and trial of Chief James Ibori,” the statement concluded.


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