WE DID NOT SAY IBORI OWNS 30% OF OANDO –BRITISH CROWN PROSECUTOR RETRACTS STATEMENT
The British Crown prosecution today has denied ever suggesting in any way that the former governor of Delta State James Ibori who is currently serving a jail term in a UK prison owns 30% of OANDO OIL.
In a sudden twist of events, the British prosecution have denied their allegation against James Ibori in the course of confiscation of assets hearing which started last Monday that he has 30% of Oando, which became a sensational news story in Nigeria. This threw the court into some confusion which forced the court to rise for 10 minutes to allow some calmness to return to the court especially between Sasha Wass, the British Prosecutor and the counsels, QC Ivan Krolic for James Ibori and QC Bailey for Oando.
DC Peter Clark was under cross examination from QC Krolic, James Ibori’s counsel, when he, Krolic referred to the crown prosecutor, Sasha Wass, as having alleged that Mr Ibori owns 30% of OANDO. Cutting in suddenly, Sasha, the crown prosecutor, said ‘your honour Mr Krolic should use the correct statement used by the prosecution…..the crown has carefully chosen their words, it may well not be correct to say that the crown said that Mr Ibori owns 30% of OANDO’.
As if he did not hear what Sasha said correctly, QC Krolic proceeded to say ‘your honour, I recall Mr Bailey, Counsel to Oando asking the prosecution to withdraw what she said about Ibori owning 30% of Oando’
Krolic further stated ‘if my learned friend, Sasha did not allege that Mr Ibori has %30 share in OANDO, there would have been no need for Oando’s counsel, QC Bailey to be in sitting in the court’
The judge, Anthony Pitts, trying to save the situation said ‘…….the prosecution did not suggest that Mr Ibori owns 30% of Oando’.
Relying on the sudden turn and retraction from the prosecution and confirmed by the Judge, Anthony Pitts, QC Krolic said ‘it appears that there are those that are involved with the media that have concluded that Mr Ibori had 30% of Oando, if in fact my learned friend, referring to the crown prosecutor, Sasha Wass, did not say or mean that, the media should be corrected’.
At the start of this confiscation hearing last week Monday, some media houses in Nigeria, relying on Reuters News Agency’s report, copied and published verbatim the story which allegedly said that Ibori has 30% equity in Oando, which has now been denied by the British Crown prosecution at the on going asset confiscation hearing.
In his reaction, James Ibori’s solicitor, Jonathan Epelle said ‘it is very unfortunate that the media has been making sensationalism of this case which has in many aspects since it began on Monday opened up a lot of hidden facts that have been misrepresented in the public glare’.
After the court returned from the 10 minutes break following the confusion created as a result of the British Crown Prosecution retraction of a categorical statement linking James Ibori to %30 ownership of OANDO, the court could not continue with the day’s proceeding and had to adjourn till the following day.
Also at the hearing, the British Investigating officer, DC Clark was forced to admit after a series of questioning from the defence counsel, Krolic, that he has been unable to establish any link between funds originating from Delta State accounts into any account owned by James Ibori or any of his associates.
There has been series of conflicting revelations in the case against James Ibori since the hearing of his assets confiscation started. It will be recalled that DC Peter Clark, the British Police financial investigator in this case, admitted under cross examination that the prosecution used Mr Gohil’s forged documents, ledgers and backdated letters to prosecute James Ibori.
Also in the week, while giving his testimony at the court, Nigeria’s former Chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu had said that the EFCC under him was unable to provide documented evidence that can be presented to the court directly linking James Ibori to the alleged $15M bribe apart from the money itself. In his claim, the only notes he had in the said bribe was lost in Jos and the loss was not reported to the police.
The hearing continues.
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