Fresh worry for Ibori as UK weighs jail option or seizure of over £100m

London—A court in the United Kingdom (UK) is set to order the seizure of more than 100 million pounds ($129 million) from James Ibori, former Delta State governor who was convicted of fraud and money laundering in Britain, according to the Daily Trust.

Ibori, who was the governor of Delta from 1999 to 2007, was among the class 1999 governors who visited President Bola Tinubu at Aso Rock last week.

He admitted to 10 charges of fraud and money laundering in 2012 and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

He was extradited from Dubai to London in 2011 after fleeing Nigeria.

The British authorities indicted him for stealing public funds and laundering them through UK banks and properties.

After years of legal battles and delays, the confiscation proceedings against Ibori are nearing completion.

Judge David Tomlinson of Southwark Crown Court has made factual findings regarding the amount of money that Ibori benefited from his crimes, according to Reuters.

During a hearing on Thursday, the prosecution and the defence presented their arguments on how the confiscation figure should be calculated based on the judge’s findings.

The judge is expected to finalise and issue his order on Friday or shortly afterwards.

Jonathan Kinnear, the prosecution lawyer, told the court that the total amount that should be confiscated from Ibori was 101.5 million pounds, and that if he failed to pay he should face an additional prison term of between five and 10 years.

Ibori, who returned to Nigeria in 2017 after serving half of his sentence, did not attend the hearing.

Reuters quoted him as saying he planned to appeal against the confiscation order.

Ibori is a powerful figure in Nigerian politics, despite his conviction. He is seen as in Delta, where he has influenced the emergence of all his successor but incumbent Governor Sheriff Oborevwori.

He has close ties with Tinubu, whom he has visited twice since assumption of office in May.

Britain has promised to return any money recovered from Ibori to Nigeria.

In 2021, it returned 4.2 million pounds that had been confiscated from Ibori’s ex-wife and his sister, who also served jail time for helping him launder money.

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