The chances of ex-Governor James Ibori of Delta State to complete his jail term for money laundering in Nigeria look remote,according to indications yesterday.
It had been suggested that he could be repatriated from London to Nigeria to complete his jail term following an agreement between Abuja and London for Nigerians currently serving terms there to complete their sentence at home.
After a five-year legal ordeal, Ibori was jailed for 13 years in April 2012 by Justice Nicholas Pitts.
He said although the official figure alleged to have been laundered by Ibori was £50million, it could be up to £250milllion.
Pitts found him guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to make instruments contrary to section 1 (1) (a) of the criminal act of 1977.
He is however expected to spend only four and a half years in prison.
But following recent signing of an agreement between the UK and Nigeria on exchange of prisoners, there were speculations that Ibori might be transferred home.
A source in the UK High Commission said: “We are not planning to allow Ibori be a beneficiary of the exchange policy, it is not targeted at him. Our laws are very strong on money laundering; the exchange programme does not cover such people like Ibori.
“So, he will complete his prison terms in the UK as part of our own contribution to your anti-corruption agenda.
“If he is brought to Nigeria, we are not sure if he would not be pardoned as a result of pressure from some people”
Responding to a question, the source added: “The Nigerian government has not made any request for the repatriation of Ibori home to complete his jail terms.”
A reliable source in government said: “There is no plan to bring Ibori home under any guise and we will not do so. We will be sending a wrong signal if we do so.
“This is an example of consequence of graft in public office; we want others to learn from Ibori’s experience. His conviction has strengthened our anti-corruption campaign.”
When contacted, the Press and Public Affairs Officer, Robert Fitzpatrick, only said: “The terms of agreement between the UK and Nigeria are not about one person, it is a long time agreement.”
The UK Minister of Justice, Mr. Jeremy Wright, and the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), signed the prisoners’ exchange agreement.
Wright, who also met with the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, and the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, said about £1m [about N280m} would be made available by the British government for a “comprehensive reform of Nigerian Prisons.”
by: Yusuf Alli