SAN FRANCISCO, January 31, (THEWILL)- A London court has cleared the path for a former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori to return to Nigeria having served out his jail term for graft.
Making an order which technically allows Ibori to be returned to his homeland in Tuesday’s hearing of the suit instituted by the politician against the Secretary of State (Home Office), seeking to stop the United Kingdom government from further detaining him any further despite completing his sentence, Mr. Justice Garnham of the Royal Court of Justice, Fleet Street, London, turned down the bid by the Crown to transfer the case to Crown Court or Queens Bench Division.
Ibori’s lawyers led by Mr. Richard Murkin had argued that the Crown was trying to delay the suit and pushed for the court to rule that government was abusing its powers by seeking to detain Ibori any further on the premise that his assets confiscation case remained undecided. He asked the judge to award compensation to Ibori for ‘unlawful detention.’
Ibori was present at today’s hearing having been released from jail a few days to Christmas and securing an order from the court that barred the home office from further holding him.
The hearing of the assets case, which is a civil case, continues this Friday. Judge Garnham has scheduled definite hearing and ruling for early March after both parties have made their final arguments.
His lawyers argue Ibori does not have to be present in court or in the United Kingdom when the assets confiscation matter is being determined.
Ibori pled guilty to multiple charges of money laundering and graft and was subsequently sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Ibori, in a statement captioned: “Ibori Wins Another Court Victory; Returns To Nigeria Soon” by Tony Eluemunor, his Media Assistant, said Ibori himself has now confirmed that he would be homeward bound very soon. Speaking outside the court on Tuesday, he told BBC’s Mark Eastman that he was planning to appeal his conviction and return to Nigeria. When asked how soon that his trip home would be, he said “as soon as possible, may be in a matter of days.” Ibori was mobbed by a large number of Nigerians who came to identify with him in his travails. He shook hands with many of them, exchanging pleasantries.
Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s in briefing his lawyers may be the only thing standing between Ibori now and his journey to Nigeria, the statement added. For instance, there will be mention of the Ibori London case this week Friday at the Southwark London Court for the Judge to be fully informed on what is happening with the disclosure process and to ascertain if everybody convicted in the Ibori and related cases will be appealing.