•Gets court’s nod to challenge 13-year sentence
…Hires new lawyer
Former governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori, yesterday got the leave of the Southwark Crown Court, London for a review of his sentence. Ibori, 49, was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment in April this year after he pleaded guilty in a $250 million money laundering case. He was governor of the oil-rich state between 1999 and 2007.
The court gave Ibori leave to challenge the 13 years sentence slammed on him based on the alleged compromise by the personnel of the Metropolitan Police that investigated the case. One of his accomplices, who had also been convicted, also expressed his intention to challenge his conviction based on alleged corruption against the detectives. Yesterday, the asset confiscation case commenced before Justice Anthony Pitts, the same judge that convicted Ibori but with the prosecution pleading for a delay in the trial. Ibori, who had earlier been speculated would be in court, was, however, represented by his new lawyer that replaced the former defence team after Ibori’s conviction.
At the resumed hearing, the prosecution requested the judge to grant permission for a delay in the confiscation of assets case, citing the lack of cooperation from Ibori as regards the list of assets to be seized. According to the prosecution, the list of assets, which Ibori was ready to append his signature had excluded two properties in the United States and valued at several millions of pounds. The prosecution said it was convinced that the properties belonged to Ibori but the convicted former governor denied the ownership. Reacting to the application for delay in hearing, the defence counsel kicked against the request, saying the law only stipulated that the confiscation of assets case should be heard within six months of conviction.
After listening to arguments from both parties, the judge granted the request for a delay in hearing of the case on the ground that the application was as a result of Ibori’s lack of sincerity and co-operation in the compilation of his assets. While noting that the case was a complex one with many twists and turns, the trial judge stated that the case, which was supposed to be completed by April 2013, would now be concluded in August 2013. The court maintained that the case has the possibility of spilling into early 2014, depending on the level of co-operation from Ibori.