The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it received “with happiness” news of theconviction of former governor ofDeltaState, Mr. James Ibori, to a 13 year jail term by aSouthwark Crown CourtinLondon. It said it expected the disgraced former governor to return toNigeriaafter serving his term inEnglandto face other criminal charges pending in courts.
The EFCC, which failed to obtain a conviction of Mr. Ibori in 2010, described the conviction as “the icing on a tortuous investigative and legal odyssey” for all the actors involved in the Ibori saga.
“It is reassuring that today’s sentencing of Ibori was based on the foundation of the case built by the EFCC in 2007 which unfortunately was thrown out by the Federal High court, Asaba for lack of merit,” the statement said in a press statement. “The same fate has lately befallen other EFCC cases, notably the Erastus Akingbola, Ndudi Elumelu, Dimeji Bankole and Gbenga Daniel matters. They were all thrown out by the courts purely on technical grounds without consideration of the substantive issues.”
It called for strengtheningNigeria’s judicial institutions if the country is to make any headway in the anti- graft efforts.
The Commission said it was even more interesting to observe the opportunity for the repatriation of the array of properties and assets amassed overseas by Ibori, describing that fact as proof there is no safe haven abroad for politically exposed persons who looted state funds entrusted in their care. It did not say, however, what it intended to do about its dismal record or prosecutions, or the army of PEPs who are enjoying their loot inNigeriawith nobody molesting them.
“The EFCC wishes to restate the fact that the offence for which Ibori was jailed inLondonis only a fraction of the array of criminal infractions committed by the former governor,” said the statement. “The Commission remains committed in its determination to bring Ibori and other alleged corrupt politically exposed persons and corporate titans to book inNigeria, no matter how long it takes.”
In 2010, when the EFCC tried to claim collaboration with the London Metropolitan Police in the arrest of Ibori inDubai, that claim was swiftly denied by the British. Under the leadership of Mrs. Farida Waziri, the EFCC lost the respect and cooperation of foreign agencies, which believed that she was paying only lip service to combating corruption.