James IboriJames Ibori: Police did not know his remuneration package
Defence lawyers to the former Governor of Nigeria's Delta State - James Ibori have told the Southwark Crown Court in London that London Metropolitan Police investigators who worked with Nigeria’s anti-corruption body - the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may have deliberately ignored establishing James Ibori’s social and financial muscle prior to him becoming Governor in 1999.
At a confiscation of assets hearing, the court was also told that the Metropolitan Police did not ask, know or document how much the State Government was paying Ibori by way of his official remuneration package.
Under cross examination by Ibori’s lead counsel - Ivan Kronic, Detective Constable (DC) Peter Clark admitted that Ibori’s social and financial status in Nigeria just before he became a governor was not factored into their investigation and report.
DC Clark admitted that in the course of investigating Ibori’s finances in Nigeria, he did not visit Warri, one of the hubs of petroleum related businesses in Nigeria and the key commercial city in Delta State where Ibori was Governor.
Clark admitted under cross examination that despite his over 30 trips to Nigeria spanning several years and his working relationship with the EFCC, he did not bother to understand the social and cultural settings around Nigeria’s political environment, the two major factors that determine the behavioural pattern of political office holders in the country.
Kronic presented evidence by way of some of Ibori's pre-1999 business transaction documents to the court and asserted that Ibori had substantial wealth and influence before becoming Governor. Ibori earned money in both Nigeria’s Naira and foreign currencies, the court was told.
DC Clark also admitted while being crossed examined that Ibori was engaged in some forms of businesses regardless of his (Clark's) opinions which included shipping, consultancy service for a US based legal firm, the Federal Government of Nigeria, a news paper publishing outfit, logistics (upstream) and trading (downstream) and a substantial investment in banking and real estate property prior to his assumption of office as Delta State Governor in 1999.
He further admitted that Ibori operated a boat house business in Warri which enjoyed substantial patronage from reputable oil companies in the region.
Observers opine that Clark's admission under cross examination reinforces Kronic’s argument that Ibori was an established and successful businessman before becoming Governor in 1999.
An observer who was in court also opined that there is a media bias in the reporting of the case. He noted that, a Western news agency’s reporter who had sat all through the confiscation hearing till the end of each day's court proceedings and wrote her reports based on the prosecution’s angle, presentation and submissions suddenly left the court room immediately Kronic began to cross examine DC Clark for the first time in the hearing and she never returned for the day.
Reacting outside the court room, Ibori’s defence solicitors said that any news report that is one sided, excluding the submissions and opinions of other parties involved in the report will not only be unfair, unprofessional but also extremely biased and unethical. They lamented the unprofessional and unethical manner some Nigeria media houses copy and publish verbatim such reports especially from news agencies without seeking to balance the stories from the defence submissions.
They expressed their concerns that the Western media sensationalism and ambush journalism strategy in the case should be a concern to the Nigerian public and Nigerian public office holders.
Ibori may qualify for parole and be released from Long Lartin Maximum Security Prison sometime in 2016.
The confiscation is expected to last three weeks.