As the confiscation hearing of assets of former governor of Delta State James Ibori continues at Southwark Crown Court in London, it has been made known to the court that the Metropolitan Police Investigating Officers who worked with Nigeria’s anti-graft body, EFCC may have deliberately ignored establishing James Ibori’s social and financial status in Nigeria before becoming the governor of Delta State in 1999.
It was also revealed that during many years of investigations into James Ibori’s Finances even as a Governor, the British Police investigating officers neither asked, knew nor documented how much the Delta State Government was paying James Ibori officially as his income.
James Ibori who may qualify for parole and be released sometime in 2016 from the UK prison was presented by the crown prosecution and the prosecution witness in the money laundering case as a pauper with no means of livelihood before becoming the governor in 1999. But under cross examination by James Ibori’s lead counsel, Ivan Kronic, prosecution witness detective Peter Clark admitted that James Ibori’s social and financial status in Nigeria just before he became a governor was not factored into their investigation and report.
Ibori’s lead counsel through the presentation of series of business transaction documents carried out by James Ibori before becoming a governor in Nigeria showed that Ibori had substantial wealth, influence and high social status. Clark also admitted while being crossed examined that James Ibori was engaged in some forms of businesses regardless of his (Clark’s) opinions which included shipping, consultancy service for a US based legal firm, the Federal Government of Nigeria, a news paper publishing outfit, logistics (upstream) and trading (downstream) and a substantial investment in banking and real estate property prior to his assumption of office as Delta state governor in 1999.
Detective Clark also admitted that in the course of investigating James Ibori’s finances in Nigeria, he did not visit Warri, one of the hubs of petroleum related businesses in Nigeria and the key commercial city in Delta State where Ibori was the governor at the time. He further admitted that Ibori operated a boat house business in Warri which enjoyed substantial patronage from reputable oil companies in the region. The prosecution witness under cross examination disclosed that despite his over 30 trips to Nigeria and spanning several years and his working relationship with the EFCC, he did not bother to understand the social and cultural settings around Nigeria’s political environment, the two major factors that determine the behavioural pattern of political office holders in the country. Still being crossed examined, Clark noted that in Nigeria as in any other parts of the world, a no-person or nonentity cannot rise to a political height as James Ibori did in Nigeria.
The prosecution witness’ admission under cross examination was to reinforce the lead counsel’s argument in this asset confiscation hearing that James Ibori was an established and successful businessman before becoming the governor of Delta state in 1999 who earned money in both Nigeria’s currency and foreign currencies.
In an apparent unexpected development, a western news agency’s reporter who had sat all through the confiscation hearing till the end of each days court proceedings since it started on Monday and wrote her reports based on the prosecution’s angle, presentation and submissions suddenly left the court room immediately the defence counsel to James Ibori began to cross examine the prosecution witness, detective Peter Clark for the first time in this hearing and she never returned for the day.
Reacting to the development outside the court room, Ibori’s defence solicitors said that any news report that is one sided, excluding the submissions and opinions of other parties involved in the report will not only be unfair, unprofessional but also extremely biased and unethical. They lamented the unprofessional and unethical manner some Nigeria media houses copy and publish verbatim such reports especially from Reuters News without seeking to balance the stories from the defence submissions.
They expressed their concerns that the western media sensationalism and ambush journalism strategy in the case should be a concern to the Nigerian public and Nigerian public office holders.
The three weeks confiscation trial continues.
a 360nobs submission