The profound victory which Chief James Onanefe Ibori won on Monday against the British Home Secretary must not be understated. This was not about the £1 nominal damages but the significantly greater victory over just how the UK political establishment blatantly attempted to restrain a free man. The victory was greater for the principle.
Ibori’s Media Assistant, Tony Eluemunor said in a statement that “some media outfits, focused their reports on the frivolous, and disdained the serious, mocking the £1, nominal damages. In doing so, they missed the obvious – how again Chief Ibori was victimised and oppressed by the UK government and how a British High Court found in his favour and maligned the British Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) failures.
The CPS’s failures have embarrassed both the Home Secretary – Amber Rudd and the UK Establishment that continue to cover-up its misconduct. This action demonstrates the political nature of the Ibori and linked prosecutions in the UK.
In his Statement, Eluemunor added that the Judge also stated that “If costs cannot be agreed between the parties “I will make a determination on written representations”. This concluding paragraph in that judgment thus makes it abundantly clear that Ibori won all his legal costs, which will be determined later.
Article 14 in the judgment clearly states that one of the issues at stake was that the British Secretary of State for the Home Department, Amber Rudd would not concede that she had unlawfully detained the claimant over 20th and 21st December 2016”. Such an admission would have damaged her political status but more so, her lack of judgment and adherence to the rule of law.
At issue here is that Ibori’s Human Rights had been violated, but stretched significantly further, that detention is part of the long list of political persecutions he has faced both in Nigeria and Britain.
The Judge also found that “the Home Secretary had failed to have regard to the limits on her power to detain. The principle of public law that statutory powers must be used for the purpose for which they were conferred and not for some other purpose has been breached”.
Was the UK Home Secretary so badly advised that she would readily break the law? if so by whom and for what reason for this course of action was proposed? This is the key question that should now be asked.
The Judge added: “And by the time Mr. Ibori reached his conditional release date the Home Secretary had been told in the clearest terms that the next hearing for that purpose on 3rd February 2017 was merely to mention the case and it should have been obvious on a rational analysis that detention from 20th December 2016 pending the resolution of the financial proceedings would not be detention for a reasonable period in all the circumstances”. This, said Eluemunor, shows Ibori was to be detained indefinitely, just to keep him away from Nigeria – for political reasons only and not as part of any alleged anti-corruption drive.
Not surprisingly, the Judge blamed the Crown Prosecution Service for the illegality, saying, “In this case the Home Secretary – Amber Rudd has been wrong-footed by the failure of the prosecution to achieve determination of its confiscation proceedings against Mr. Ibori’
This however fails to recognise that Chief Ibori’s confiscation hearings actually took place in September 2013. The Judge could make no findings of any theft from the Delta State. The sums alleged to have been stolen have now apparently dwindled down to £17m, the last amount widely mentioned last December instead of the other wild figures that were routinely mouthed. In fact, the forensic evidence demonstrates, there has been no theft from Delta State.
Eluemunor said that “this adds to the UK’s problems in the Ibori and linked cases. The London Met Police itself is facing serious corruption allegations, the original prosecutors in the case have been removed and they stand accused of prosecution misconduct. The Department for International Development (DfID) which funded the investigations and trials is now facing an almighty exposure for its disregard for the rule of law in the Ibori and related cases.
Eluemunor said that, “understandably, many newspapers unwittingly fell victim of media manipulation when they followed the cue of a London evening newspaper to leave the essence of the judgment – the illegalities Ibori suffered in the London trial – and focused on trivialities.
Ibori’s appeal against his conviction will shortly begin in the Court of Appeal. His lawyers will bring significant evidence to show that what Ibori faced was political persecution and not legal prosecution, and most importantly, that no evidence was brought before the court to prove that Ibori stole any money from Delta State.