James Ibori’s asset forfeiture trial suffers setback

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Former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori in 2012 was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment in the United Kingdom for corruption charges but on Friday 22nd January, his spokesman Mr. Tony Eluemunor expressed hopes that the judgement may be overturned based on recent developments in another trial.

The UK director of public prosecution has on Thursday applied to drop charges of alleged attempt to pervert justice against one of Ibori’s lawyers, Mr. Bhadresh Gohil at the Southwark Court, London.

Ibori’s lawyer, Mr Gohil had accused the London Metropolitan Police officers involved in investigations relating to Ibori’s case of Bribery and Corruption which if found true could raise doubts as regards initial conviction of the former Governor.

The crown prosecutor, Sasha Wass according to Mr. Eluemunor has also said the UK authorities were no longer interested in pursuing the case against Gohil stating further that the crown prosecutor gave no reason for their action.

Eluemunor said: “The Prosecution’s dropping of the case on Thursday will have a knock on effect on the confiscation case against Ibori and Gohil scheduled for May as Judge Testar has ordered that materials withheld from Ibori and associates be made available to their legal teams – including the lawyers of Christine Ebie and  Udoamaka Onuigbo”. “Also, the defence lawyer, Kamlish, informed the Judge that he would ask the Court of Appeal to retry the case afresh, as though it would be handling a totally new case. This means that the earlier convictions may be overturned if such an appeal sails through.”

During the Thursday’s proceedings, Judge Testar had ordered that all materials the prosecution had withheld from the defence be made available to Ibori’s and all his associates’ legal team, an act which Eluemunor considers a “big win” for Ibori. Ibori’s spokesman further said that “Kamlish said their case had been contested on two very simple basis: firstly, that Gohil’s allegations that the Police Officers investigating the Ibori case were corrupt were true, and was central to all the cases already decided; and secondly, that the Prosecution had suppressed critical material in the trials of James Ibori and in the Court of Appeal, and that was the reason why they were about to enter into an abuse of court process argument. Thus, said the lawyer, the Crown’s pleading of no evidence on Thursday shows that the allegations are true,”

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