The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC received with happiness news of the conviction of former governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori who was this morning sentenced to a 13 year jail term by a Southwark Crown Court in London.
The Commission welcomes the conviction which is the icing on a tortuous investigative and legal odyssey for all actors invoved in the Ibori saga.
It is reassuring that today’s setencing of Ibori was based on the foundation of the case built by the EFCC in 2007 which unfortunately was thrown out by the Federal High court, Asaba for lack of merit. The same fate has lately befallen other EFCC cases, notably the Erastus Akingbola, Ndudil Elumelu , Dimeji Bankole and Gbenga Daniel matters.They were all thrown out by the courts purely on technical grounds without consideration of the subtantive issues.
The fact that a case which supposedly lacked merit in Nigeria could fetch a 13 year jail term in the UK after a landmark guilt plea, brings to fore the need for a reassessment of the nation’s justice delivery process. We must strenghen our judicial instituitions if we are to make any headway in the anti- graft efforts.
More interesting to the Commission in the Ibori conviction, is the opportunity for the repatriation of the array of properties and assets amassed overseas by the convict.
Once again, his fate has proven that there is no safe haven abroad for politically exposed persons who looted state funds entrusted in their care.
The Commission expects Ibori to serve his term in the UK and return to Nigeria to face other criminal charges pending in courts, arising from his eight year rule of Delta State .
The EFCC wishes to restate the fact that the offences for which Ibori was jailed in London is only a fraction of the array of criminal infractions committed by the former governor.
The Commission remains committed in its determination to bring Ibori and other alleged corrupt politically exposed persons and corporate titans to book in Nigeria , no matter how long it takes.
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
17th April, 2012.