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IBORI LOSES BAIL IN DUBAI, REMANDED IN POLICE CUSTODY

By NBF News
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JAMES IBORI
The travails of a former Delta State Governor James Ibori have worsened as a court in Dubai, United Arab Emirates revoked the bail he was granted on May 13.

Two Nigerian online news agencies—Saharareporters and THE WILL — said in their reports on Thursday, that the Dubai police, acting on an intelligence report, revoked the bail on the grounds that Ibori might escape from the oil-rich Arab country.

The agencies added in the reports that the former governor's bail was revoked as soon as he arrived at the police headquarters in Dubai on Tuesday.

Saharareporters said, 'The police, acting on actionable intelligence, revoked his bail as soon as he arrived their headquarters having become desperate following the sentencing of two of his associates to five-year jail term.

'Ibori will remain in prison until the conclusion of his extradition hearing in the United Arab Emirates.'

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which met behind closed doors in Abuja with a team from the Metropolitan Police of London, confirmed the revocation of Ibori's bail.

A top Presidency source i told one of our correspondents the bail was revoked following a strong protest by the Federal Government.

The Federal Government had threatened to revoke the operational licence of Emirate Airline last week, following the UAE authorities' apparent lack of interest in cooperating with Nigeria to extradite Ibori for trial in the United Kingdom.

Besides, it was gathered that overwhelming evidence the EFCC presented to the UAE authorities to the effect that the former governor fled Nigeria in order to escape justice, helped to change their mind on the Ibori bail.

Also, the conviction of Ibori's sister, Mrs Christine Ibori-Ibie, and one of his associates, Udoamaka Okroronkwo-Onuigbo by the Southwark Crown Court in London on June 7, 2010 was said to have played a crucial role in the reversal of UAE's initial stance.

The Presidency source said, 'Three factors were considered by the Dubai authorities in revoking the bail earlier granted Ibori.

'The conditions of his people in the UK- those who were convicted to five years in prison each and the protest from the Nigerian authorities that the operational licence of Emirate airlines will be seized swayed the Dubai authorities.

'There is also the overwhelming evidence presented by the EFCC operatives in Dubai that Ibori fled Nigeria to escape justice.

'The revocation of the bail is preparatory to his extradition to the UK. '

Our correspondents learnt that the meeting between Waziri and the Met. Police team lasted for more than five hours.

The EFCC had earlier extended invitation to journalists to cover the meeting , but later changed its mind on the grounds that its (meeting) outcome was not for 'public consumption.'

The media crew of the commission, which covers visits to the commission, was also barred from the talks.

The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Femi Babafemi, who confirmed the meeting, said, 'We are only releasing the picture of that meeting to the press.'

It was, however, gathered that the meeting was called to strategise on the next line of action for the EFCC and London Met. Police on the extradition of the ex-governor to the UK.

EFCC operatives who were dispatched to Dubai immediately Ibori was arrested are still in the country to see the extradition process through.

The former governor had fled the UK after being declared wanted by the Met. Police for money laundering, thus making the International Police to start a manhunt for him.

The Met. Police and the EFCC had insisted that he should be extradited to face corruption charges.

But his sister, Ibori-Ibie, and Okoronkwo-Onuigbo were sentenced to five-year imprisonment on June 7 for money laundering, mortgage and fire frauds.

Another associate of Ibori, Mrs. Bimpe Pogoson, was acquitted by the Southwark Crown Court which held that Ibori-Ibie and Okoronkwo Onuigbo were used by Ibori to loot funds belonging to the people of Delta State during his eight years in office as governor of Nigeria's wealthiest state.

Ibori was declared wanted by the EFCC on April 13 over N44bn fraud and other corruption charges.

He was accused of selling Delta State shares in the Oceanic International Bank Plc and spending it to purchase shares in a United States Oil Servicing company, Wilbros.

Besides Nigeria, the former governor has been declared wanted in the United Kingdom, where he was facing allegations of money laundering.

The EFCC had said, 'Following persistent public enquiries over the status of the case involving the former governor, we will like the public to know that James Ibori is wanted by the Commission for interrogation.

'In this regard, letters of invitation have been sent to his known addresses in Lagos and Abuja while a court warrant has equally been obtained for his arrest.'

Rather than honouring the EFCC's invitation, Ibori, in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Tony Elemunor, dismissed the commission's allegation, describing it as 'political harassment.

But before he was declared wanted, the agency had been accused of showing no interest in prosecuting the former governor because of his closeness to the late former President Umaru Yar'Adua.

The former governor had filed an application at the Federal High Court, Asaba, on April 27, asking the court to order the commission not to arrest him.

But the court, presided over by Ibrahim Buba, turned down the application, saying that there was no sufficient material to grant it.

After the court rejected his application, Ibori was said to have taken refuge in Oghara, his home town in Delta State, where youths barricaded roads thus preventing EFCC from arresting him.

The youths and women in the town protested over the EFCC manhunt for Ibori, saying they would die, defending their son from alleged victimization by EFCC.

But while the EFCC was looking for the ex-governor, he sneaked out of the country early last month and fled to Dubai.

He, was, however, arrested by the Interpol on May 12 following a United Kingdom warrant of arrest.