Chief James Onanefe Ibori’s Media Office was shocked to read in the newspapers of Wednesday January 27, 2016, that the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said the Federal Government was priming itself to recover the sum of 6.9m British Pounds Sterling described as “Ibori loot”. In a press statement, Mr. Tony Eluemunr, Ibori’s Media Assistant said ‘’there is no Ibori loot anywhere in the world.
Such money, whether in British pounds, American dollars or the Nigerian Naira just does not exist. This is because the Ibori London trial is not yet over. It is an incontrovertible fact that the confiscation hearing has not started at all, and remains months away into the future. This makes it disappointing that a high official of State such as the Attorney-General may have been misled into believing that an Ibori loot not only exists anywhere, but he even put a figure (6.9 million pounds) to it.
Mr. Eluemunor continued: “With all due respect to the Minister and the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, it is curious that such a misleading statement could have come less than a week that dozens of well-respected foreign media organisations including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), The Times of London, The Guardian of London, and a host of Nigerian news outlets reported that the case against Ibori and his associates have become shaky as some operatives of the London Metropolitan Police have been accused of bribery and corruption in the course of their investigations. Thus at the Thursday January 21, 2016 hearing the prosecution was forced to withdraw its case against one of Ibori’s counsels, Mr. Bradesh Gohil. It had charged Gohil of leaking fabricated documents to media organisations and Members of (British) Parliament, but Gohil turned the case against the Police, accusing it of misleading the court with tainted evidence from corrupt operatives and of withholding key documents which could have proved police corruption. The New Indian Express of Monday 25 January 2016 ventured further than the Times to report that Gohil, who was freed from jail last year, may now challenge his previous conviction, just as Ibori or any of his associates already convicted may also decide to do.
In representations to the judge, Stephen Kamlish, Gohil’s defence team leader accused the Crown Prosecution Service of “positively misleading the court and the parties as part of their deliberate cover-up of discloseable material”.
In response, the Judge said, “The crown has offered no evidence for one or both of the following reasons. One, that the allegations of corruption made by Mr Gohil are true, and not false. The second is that the crown has suppressed material both in this court and in other proceedings, including the trial of Ibori”. Then he said in words that must be sweet music to Ibori’s ears; “The crown offering no evidence can only mean the crown is not prepared themselves to explain their decision, either for the abuse of the court in bad faith or for the police corruption. In those circumstances, it is our duty to our client to raise these matters and this brings into question the safety of these (past) convictions.” This means all the past convictions could be challenged afresh.
The New Indian Express continued; “A Met police intelligence report seen by the paper suggests an RISC employee telephoned a police officer working on the Ibori investigation in 2007 and allegedly told him his inquiries were “on the right track”. Separate documents shown to Gohil’s defence team are said to reveal the existence of 19 cash deposits into the same officer’s bank account. The Crown Prosecution had allegedly denied the existence of the documents”. However, it is on record that in the run up to the hearings, Ms Wass was directly accused by Gohil’s representative, Mr. Stephen Kamlish, of lying to the Court of Appeal and also lying to His Honour at the Southwark Court and disobeying his order for the Crown to disclose evidence in their possession which include the bank statements of Detective Constable John McDonald to the Defence before the start of the trial.
Eluemunor said that he assumed that the Minister may have been misquoted and so did not issue a rebuttal immediately. It was only when he failed to retract the statement after 24 hours that he decided to give Nigerians (including the Minister) the true perspective about the Ibori London trial and state categorically that the so called “Ibori Loot” Mr. Abubakar Malami saw as a “low hanging fruit ripe for plucking” must have been a terrible mirage. This has done nothing though to affect in any way the high regards Chief Ibori and his Media Office have for President Muhammadu Buhari, his administration and Ministers, including the Justice Minister, Mr. Abubakar Malami. Chief Ibori wishes them well in their stated bid to leave Nigeria better than they found it.
Signed: Tony Eluemunor Media Assistant to Chief James Onanefe Ibori.