Ibori must face trial for corruption in Nigeria, Appeal Court rules
A Court of Appeal in Benin on Thursday ruled that a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, should face corruption trial afresh in Nigeria.
Justice Ibrahim Saulawa of the Appeal Court said that upon completion of his jail term in London, Mr. Ibori will face trial in Nigeria.
This ruling comes six years after an Asaba Federal High Court Judge, Marcel Awokulehin, struck out all 170 – count charges of money laundering against Mr. Ibori.
The suit was filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The appeal court’s ruling was by a three- member panel of justices including, Justices P. M Ekpe and H. A Barka
Following Mr. Awokulehin’s controversial ruling, the EFCC had approached the appellate court to set aside the judgment on the grounds that the court erred in law.
The appeal was predicated on four grounds: that the trial judge looked at the proof of evidence and evaluated same as if the prosecution had called all its witnesses and trial has been concluded; that the procedure is by way of summary trial and not trial by indictment or information; that the proof of evidence clearly shows a prima facie case has been disclosed against Mr. Ibori and that the judge erred when he held that no case was disclosed against the accused; and lastly, that the judgment is unwarranted and against the weight of proof of evidence filed by the prosecution in support of the charges.
Holding that the appeal was meritorious, Mr. Salauwa resolved all the four issues for determination in favour of the EFCC
He directed that the matter be re-assigned to another judge of the Federal High Court for continuation of trial.
Following, Mr. Saulawa’s judgment, the coast is now clear for Mr. Ibori to face trial in Nigeria upon the completion of his jail term in London.
Other respondents in the case are Udoamaka Okoronkwo and Chinedu Ebie.
Mr. Ibori, who governed Delta for 8 years (1999-2007) is accused of embezzling state funds while governor. He was convicted of money laundering in the U.K. and is serving his jail term.
Mr. Ibori had allegedly tried to bribe Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer EFCC chairman with $15 million cash to avoid prosecution.
The money was lodged with the Central Bank of Nigeria.