Former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, was again in court in the United Kingdom on Friday as his assets’ confiscation trial began.
The trial which was presided over by David Tomlinson, a justice at Southwark Crown court will determine whether Ibori’s £250 million assets should be forfeited to the UK government after the ex-Governor was released from jail.
Recall that Ibori was arrested by INTERPOL in Dubai, United Arab Emirates,in May 2010, and was extradited to the UK in 2011 where he was convicted of money laundering.
He was released from jail in December 2016 having served four and half years out of the 13-year jail sentence handed him.
Reports say Ibori had agreed to be deported to Nigeria, where he is expected to complete his sentence.However, the UK Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, insisted that the former governor would only be deported after handing over “proceeds of crime”.
Ibori then filed a suit against the UK home office, seeking to stop the government from further detaining him.
The suit was heard last Tuesday by Justice Garnham of the Royal Court of Justice, London.Counsels to Ibori, led by Richard Murkin, during the hearing argued that the Crown was trying to delay the suit and to unlawfully detain Ibori further on the premise that his assets confiscation case remained undecided.
He asked the judge to award compensation to Ibori for “unlawful detention”.
Speaking after the hearing, Ibori told journalists that he plans to appeal his conviction and return to Nigeria.Asked how soon he thinks he would be heading home, Ibori said “as soon as possible, may be in a matter of days.”
There was wild jubilation in Delta State when the ex-Governor was released in December as many of his kinsmen took to the streets in joy to celebrate the development.
The action, however, drew criticism from several quarters, with many describing it as a shameful show of support for corruption.