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Again, the blatant rejection on Thursday September 26, by the Southwark Crown Court, of a document linking Ibori to Oando Oil Plc’s shares is proof that Ibori is after all, a victim of political persecution.
Impartial observers and keen watchers of the confiscation of assets hearing of former Delta State governor, Chief James Ibori in a London court are awed at the turn of events. Revelations, contradictions and outright misinformation emanating from even the Crown Prosecution team itself since the past two weeks all point to the fact that Ibori may have been wrongly convicted. The confession on Monday September 23, 2013, by the British prosecutors that they used forged documents to nail Ibori, who is now serving a 14 year jail term in London, even drew angry reactions from Nigerian lawyers who faulted use of forged documents to convict the former governor, calling it a miscarriage of justice.
The Crown Prosecution had admitted that they relied on forged and falsified documents, letters and ledgers obtained from Arlington Sharmas solicitors to nail Ibori. It is indeed astonishing to watch, as reported in the international media, how the defence lawyer, Barrister Ivan Krolick has been cross-examining. prosecution witness, DC, detective Constable- Peter Clark and how the prosecution’s 66,000 pages of evidence are crumbling like a pack of cards. Also surprising was the indelicate appearance of Nuhu Ribadu, former. Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,, (EFCC), to testify against Ibori. Bereft of any convincing evidence against the accused except a phony display of sophistry and melodrama, Ribadu tottered from pillar to pole blabbing and shaking vividly on end.
In fact, a section of the Nigerian press which hitherto had celebrated Ribadu’s appearance at the London Court promoting it on their front pages before the actual appearance became evidently bruised with the turn of events. Ribadu, while giving evidence of how Ibori allegedly offered him $15million bribe, disclosed under oath on September 20, 2013, that neither him nor the Commission he headed had an investigation file, notes of calls, meetings, briefings,or records detailing the offer between him and Ibori on or around the dates the bribe was allegedly given.
While being cross-examined by Ibori’s lead counsel, Ivan Krolick, the former EFCC Chairman said the only note he had on Ibori’s offer of $15million bribe was his personal note which got lost after his removal from office as EFCC chairman. What an excuse!
Again, the blatant rejection on Thursday September 26, by the Southwark Crown Court, of a document linking Ibori to Oando Oil Plc’s shares is proof that Ibori is after all, a victim of political persecution. The trial judge, Anthony Pitts ruled that the Crown Prosecutor, Sasha Wass, had not tendered the document as a prosecution material prior to the commencement of the hearing. Of course, Ibori was deceived to plead guilty to honour a plea-bargain agreement to regain his freedom but was later convicted in 2011 as part of the conspiracy. Now, the chips are down leading to the revelation that not even one official of the Delta State government was interrogated over Ibori’s alleged looting of the State’s treasury as there was no state money that was declared missing after he left office as governor.
Recent events have shown that some very powerful politicians must have attempted to teach the former governor the political lesson of his life. The most unfortunate of it all is the media trial of Ibori by a section of the Nigerian press. Aside from the soft-sell media whose stock-in-trade it is to play to the gallery and sensationalize just for profit motives, there are also some otherwise serious publications that make themselves willing tools in the hands of politicians to climb into hasty prominence and to get extra mileage on the hustling, just to calve fiefs for themselves.
What has transpired in the Crown Court in London in the last two weeks makes us wonder if Ibori’s conviction was not a clear indication of perversion of justice? Besides a few credible newspapers that have found space among their pages to accommodate the on-going revelations at the London trials, why are the rest not reporting them?
The confiscation trial is not about what you have but how you acquired them. That he was able to defeat notable money bags to win as governor of Delta State in 1999 in a polity where money plays a very crucial role shows that James Ibori was not a poor man before he became a governor. Nigerians should speak against any form of injustice no matter who is involved. It can happen to anybody.