The political comeback aspirations of James Ibori, the former Governor of Delta State, are in jeopardy as a London court has threatened him with an additional 10-year prison sentence if he fails to pay a substantial sum of money. The court has ordered the confiscation of $129 million from the Nigerian politician, as requested by a state prosecutor.
Ibori’s legal troubles began when he was convicted of fraud in the UK, resulting in a 13-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to 10 counts of fraud and money laundering. His case was significant, as it was rare for foreign politicians accused of looting their countries’ wealth to be convicted.
Despite serving his sentence, the issue of what Ibori should return has been an ongoing matter in court. However, new evidence presented by Judge David Tomlinson of Southwark Crown Court appears to be bringing the case to a close.
The lead prosecution counsel, Jonathan Kinnear, argued that Ibori should be required to pay £101.5 million. He urged the judge to sentence Ibori to 10 years in prison or no less than 5 years if the payment is not made.
Ibori, who has been attempting to rebuild his public image and has made appearances at social functions, returned to Nigeria in 2017. Despite being absent from most hearings, he has expressed his dissatisfaction with the recent developments and announced his intention to appeal the judgment on his Facebook page.
It’s worth noting that Ibori’s wife and sister were also implicated in helping him launder public funds, leading to their imprisonment in the UK. In 2021, his wife returned £4.2 million as part of the confiscated loot to the British government.