Embattled former Delta State governor, Chief James Ibori, who is facing trial in London for money laundering has reached a plea bargain agreement with the British police, in a bid to shorten his trial.
The British police had earlier dropped corruption charges levelled against the former governor, whose associates have been convicted for money laundering offences, leaving him to face money laundering charges.
A source said the former governor and the police are set to adopt Monday the terms of the plea bargain, which both the prosecution and the defence teams were vetting all through last week.
“Apart from the basic fact that such a thing will only come into being through a court proceeding, one would be right to say the plea bargain between Ibori and the London Metropolitan Police is already a done deal. It has been discussed, agreed upon, the terms already settled; all that remains is a court pronouncement,” the source said.
He said both the prosecution and Ibori have become trial weary and were looking forward to quick resolution of the case, which began about seven years ago.
According to him, the team of British investigators have not made much progress in their search for evidence that has cost the British taxpayers over £14 million.
Besides, the trial would cost Ibori more if he insists on full-scale trial to prove his innocence.
Ibori has been attempting to fight off multiple suits at the same time – in Nigeria, Dubai and now Britain – preferred against him and some of his associates.
In June 2010, a Southwark Court in London convicted his sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie, for money laundering and mortgage fraud.
The 12-member jury held that she was guilty as charged for helping her brother to embezzle about $101.5 million while he was in office.
Ibori-Ibie and another of Ibori’s associate, Udoamaka Okoronkwo-Onuigbo, were later sentenced to 21 years in prison in London for their different roles in aiding the former governor to launder his loot.
The source said Ibori, who had promised to retire from politics, has suffered financial setback due to the high legal fees he has to cough up in defending his reputation.
He said the dropping of the corruption charges by the British police was a master stroke, because the Federal High Court Asaba, had dismissed an earlier case the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission preferred against the former governor for lack of evidence and the British police have no fresh evidence to sustain its corruption charge except those provided by the EFCC.
The commission accused him of stealing about $292 million and about N44 billion during his eight-year tenure as governor.
In 2007, a United Kingdom court had frozen his assets worth $35 million and he was later held in connection with charges that he allegedly stole additional $85 million during his tenure.
He was also accused of laundering Delta State assets worth 70 million pound, sterling.
Our source learnt that Ibori had initially opposed the plea bargain option until his lawyers told him that the British jurisprudence had changed considerably since the war on terrorism began.
The lawyer had cited the trial of one Mr. Anoir, an Arab who was accosted at the Heathrow Airport with a suitcase containing millions of dollars, but he refused to disclose the source when he was arraigned, challenging the prosecution to prove that the money had an illegal origin.
However, the British police proved the case by inference; saying that since the accused had refused to state the source of the funds, it was reasonable to suppose that the origin was suspect.
It was learnt that since then, the case had become a precedent, one that the prosecution had indicated its readiness to use against Ibori.
The former governor’s lawyer had told him that the prosecution, instead of proving anything beyond reasonable doubt, would be able to convince the jury about the suspicion of ill behaviour against Ibori, through inference on his source of wealth, to secure a conviction.
culled from Nigeria Revolt on facebook.
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