“He lived and behaved like a millionaire” – Day 1 of James Ibori’s final sentencing

by Lekan Olanrewaju

Former Delta State governor today commenced the sentencing phase of his trial at the Southwark Crown Court in London.

The suspect was brought into court at 11:15am wearing a grey suit, black tie and  vest and was docked in a glass-covered cubicle.

Queens Counsel and lead prosecutor, Sasha Wass, said that Mr. Ibori “lived and behaved like a millionaire”, telling the court how he “systematically and deliberately” defrauded his state during his tenure as governor and “went on to live the lifestyle of a property tycoon, living like royalty.” According to Wass, Ibori commited several frauds from which he amassed the sum of over £50 million.

The prosecutor stated that Ibori had violated Section 182 and Section 181(1) of the Nigerian constitution when he contested the governorship election less than 10years after he was jailed in the United Kingdom. She mentioned Ibori was jailed in 1991 and 1992 in London.

Ibori’s trial had been scheduled to begin on February 27 2012, but he pleaded guilty to 10 counts of money-laundering and conspiracy to defraud, leading the final hearing to be adjourned.

Ibori has been said to have opted for a plea bargain, but reports by The Vanguard say the prosecution will push for the maximum sentence.

The proceedings were not without the usual drama we’ve come to expect from hearings involving Nigerian politicians, with policemen being summoned to the courthouse during the trial. Three police vans, five cars and a helicopter were deployed to the venue as supporters of Ibori became loud and aggressive when they were excluded from the packed courtoom.

James Ibori is due to have his final sentence delivered to him tomorrow.

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