James Ibori Loses Appeal Against UK Graft Conviction

James ibori, a Nigerian politician who was jailed in Britain for laundering tens of millions of dollars in stolen public funds through British banks and properties lost an appeal against his conviction in London on Wednesday.

The Court of Appeal’s ruling against James Ibori, a former governor of oil-producing Delta State in southern Nigeria, is a relief for the British authorities at a time when they are trying to stem the flow of dirty money from overseas through London.

Ibori, who in his heyday was one of Nigeria’s richest and most powerful men, pleaded guilty in a London court in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering involving sums amounting to at least 50 million pounds ($66 million).

James Ibori
Fig 1- James Ibori, Ex- governor of Delta State, speaks after a court hearing outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Britain, January 31, 2017. via: REUTERS/Estelle Shirbon.

He received a 13-year jail sentence of which he served half, as is common in the British system, and is now back in Nigeria.

Anti-corruption campaigners had hailed the case as a milestone for Nigeria, whestaturesne of his stature had been successfully prosecuted, and for its former colonial ruler Britain, long seen as too complacent about the proceeds of Nigerian corruption being laundered in the UK.

Ibori owned multi-million-pound homes in Britain, South Africa and United States, including an English country house near the private school where his children were being educated. He also owned a Jaguar and a Bentley and was buying a $20-million private jet at the time of his arrest.

This contrasted sharply with the situation in Delta State, a maze of mangrove creeks criss-crossed by pipelines and plagued by violent conflict over access to oil money, where most people make do without electricity or clean water.

Wednesday’s ruling will allow Britain to resume efforts to confiscate millions of dollars’ worth of assets and return them to Nigerian public coffers. The assets have been frozen for years while the case has been dragging through the courts.

ALLEGED POLICE CORRUPTION

Despite his guilty pleas, Ibori appealed against his conviction alleging that one of the British police officers who investigated him had taken bribes from a private detective in return for inside tips about the probe. The officer denies this.

Ibori also alleged that British prosecutors had covered up the corruption, tainting the judicial process. These allegations had threatened to turn the case into a major embarrassment for Britain.

But three senior appeal judges said the bribery was not proven, and if it had happened, Ibori himself had instigated it as the private detective was working for him.

“As Ibori was instrumental in (the officer’s) corruption, if corruption there was, he cannot, even arguably, rely upon it to escape his convictions,” the ruling said.

Britain is currently trying to crack down on money-laundering by people involved in corrupt politics or business abroad. Police say about 100 billion pounds of dirty cash moves through or into Britain each year.

The Ibori case, which pre-dated the current crackdown by over a decade, relied on evidence obtained in Britain and Nigeria during several years of close cooperation between the British police and Nigeria’s own anti-corruption force.

Ibori has now resumed political activities in Delta State. He says he has no faith in British justice and that the case against him is politically motivated.

Executive Order 6 | Buhari Bans 50 Nigerian Elite From Foreign Trips

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has ordered that 50 high profile persons on watch-list be stopped from leaving the country pending the determination of their cases, in an Executive Order 6 (EO6) issued by the presidency.

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this development in a statement in Abuja on Saturday.

Executive Order 6
October 12th President Buhari, during his meeting with ANAN Executives | “One of the cardinal objectives of this administration is that people and all government institutions must give account for what comes in and goes out. We did not introduce TSA, but we enforced it.”.

The presidential aide said this development followed the instant judicial affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of the EO6.

He said already President Muhammadu Buhari had mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to implement the Order in full force.

“To this end, a number of enforcement procedures are currently in place by which the Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies have placed no fewer than 50 high profile persons directly affected by EO6 on watch-list and restricted them from leaving the county pending the determination of their cases.

“Also, the financial transactions of these persons of interest are being monitored by the relevant agencies to ensure that the assets are not dissipated and such persons do not interfere with, nor howsoever corrupt the investigation and litigation processes.

“It is instructive to note that EO6 was specifically directed to relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that all assets within a minimum value of ₦50 million or equivalent, subject to investigation or litigation are protected from dissipation by employing all available lawful means, pending the final determination of any corruption-related matter,’’ he added.

Shehu said the Buhari administration had reassured all well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians of its commitment to the fight against corruption, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the general principles of the Rule of Law.

He, therefore, maintained that the administration would uphold the rule of law in all its actions as well as protect the right of citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.

“We, therefore, enjoin all Nigerians to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities towards ensuring a successful implementation of the Executive Order 6 which is a paradigm-changing policy of the Federal Government in the fight against corruption,’’ he said.

Budget 2018 | President Buhari Seeks NASS Approval For $2.78bn Euro Bonds

President Muhammadu Buhari has requested a National Assembly resolution to raise 2.78 billion dollars from the International Capital Market for part-funding of the 2018 budget.

Buhari’s request came in a letter dated July 23, and read by President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, at plenary on Tuesday.

The president said the amount, approved in the 2018 Appropriation Act, would be used to finance deficits and key infrastructure projects in the 2018 budget.

Budget 2018
President Buhari on october 7th with the young men and women, Xplicit Dancers, after being entertained last night at the APC National Convention. Buhari hosted them to breakfast at the State House and said ‘I‘m impressed by the way they are combining their immense creative talent with the pursuit of education’

The loan, according to him, will be raised from Eurobonds and other securities in the international capital market.

In the same letter, Buhari also sought legislative nod for an external capital sourcing of 82.54 million dollars to refinance the balance of 500 million dollar matured Eurobonds in the international capital market.

Buhari said the requests were pursuant to Section 21(1) and 27(1) of the Debt Management Office (Establishment, Etc.) Act of 2003.

The lawmakers on Tuesday resumed from their annual recess, which began on July 25.

Although, the break was earlier scheduled to end on Sept. 25, it was extended to Oct. 9 to enable them to participate in the just-concluded primaries of their political parties.

In another letter dated Sept. 10, the president requested Senate to confirm the appointment of Mr Olanipekun Olukoyede as Secretary of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

This is coming amid the pending confirmation of Mr Ibrahim Magu, whose nomination by the president as substantive Chairman of the EFCC has been rejected twice by the lawmakers.

Also requested by the president was Senate consideration and approval of ₦346 billion as the 2018 budget proposal of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The figure is ₦18 billion lower than the ₦364 billion budget approved for the commission in the 2017 fiscal year.

A breakdown of the proposed amount shows a total recurrent expenditure of ₦32 billion and cumulative capital provision of ₦314 billion.

The president listed sources of revenue for the commission in 2018 to include Federal Government contribution (N81.8 billion) and unpaid arrears by the Federal Government (₦33.9 billion).

Others are contributions from oil companies and others (₦220 billion) and other “realised income” (₦150 million).

Buhari also presented an Executive Bill titled ‘Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Bill, 2018″ to the Senate for consideration and passage.

In a separate letter dated July 20, Buhari said the bill was intended to curtail illegal activities of pirates at sea and to reduce oil theft in domestic and international waters.

He added that the proposed legislation would also domesticate relevant provisions of international treaties to which Nigeria is signatory.

One of the treaties, according to the president, is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982 (UNCLOS II) relating to piracy.

He identified another as the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts (SUA) against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, 1988 and its protocols.

“Buhari’s Healthier Than 80% of Nigerians” –Ngige

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has described the age and health of President Muhammadu Buhari as superb for governance.

Chris Ngige, a medical doctor and the current Minister of Labour and Employment, has revealed that President Buhari is healthier than 80% of Nigerians.

According to him: “That man (Buhari) you see there is healthier than 80 percent of Nigerians. I’m a medical doctor, I can tell you authoritatively that he is healthier than most people who see his health as an issue.

He sits for over eight hours during our executive meetings. While some of us would be going for a tea break to stretch our legs, Mr. President would sit on his seat continuously, drinking only water.

I can tell you authoritatively as a medical doctor of over three decades standing that Mr President is physically and mentally healthy. He is healthier than 80% of Nigerians.”

Ngige said Nigerians should count themselves blessed to have such personality as their leader, saying that age and experience are two indices the president has, that could not be found in those who are eyeing the presidential seat in 2019.

He also added that contrary to the believe that Buhari is too old for leadership, he is actually at the best age to offer mature leadership, as older people make better leaders.

He noted that when Malaysia was in trouble, politically and economically, it had to beckon on a 93-year-old, Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, to lead it as prime minister.