WILL IBORI GET JUSTICE?
The Afrobeat maestro gave a scathing attack on imperialism or neo-colonialism with one of his numerous hit songs ‘Colonial Mentality.’ Some of the words are ‘………….. Dem Judge go kack wig and jail him brother away no be so ………..’.
The conviction of Chief James Onanefe Ibori in 2012 was imperialism at its nastiest as the jailing was done by a white judge as opposed to his fellow black brother as the Prophetic Abami Eda lashed out against.
Two core elements for a trial to be considered a fair and just one must be present so that justice is not obstructed. The Right to a Fair Hearing ‘Audi Alteram Partem’ and ‘Nemo Judex In Causa Sua’ (You cannot be a judge in your own cause) must be present for justice to be done.
It is tragic that the 2012 conviction of the Ogidigbodigbo of Africa was a monumental hoax as it fell short of those two important elements that would have justified his being behind bars these past six years.
The reader-response theory will be used in this expose for the readers to judge whether Ibori’s gaol time was really fair.
The Members of Parliament last year thoroughly grilled Metropolitan Chief, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe over bombshell claims that the Scotland Yard and Crown Prosecution Service were involved in a deliberate vocer up of mind boggling and damning evidence of an alleged nauseating police corruption. A court was told that the London Met and CPS persistently concealed some highly sensitive documents suggesting that that the policemen were paid to leak the details of the inquiry that could have helped him evade justice. It was later discovered that one cop was alleged to have received at least nineteen (19) unexplained cash deposits totaling thousands of British pounds sterling into his personal bank account after allegedly illegally revealing some sensitive information.
Bhadresh Gohil, Ibori’s former lawyer had this to say ‘I uncovered serious corruption but when I tried to expose this, I was victimised. Astonishingly, the CPS used the might of the state and all its resources to cover up what had happened and brought trumped-up charges to persecute me.
While Gohil was at Wandsworth prison, he was sent anonymous information by a concerned citizen which suggested that the policemen involved in the case had been receiving remuneration from RISC Management, a firm of private British investigators. From the documents tendered revealed that the officers received kickbacks worth thousands of pounds. Gohil went on to tell the Home Affairs Select Committee that in May 2012 that ‘The case was tainted by apparent corruption right at the heart of Scotland Yard.’ Gohil planned to use the evidence of police corruption to overturn his convictions.
But astonishingly on the eve of his appeal in June 2014, he found himself facing another jail sentence as the CPS told him he would be charged with perverting the course of justice for allegedly forging the crucial documents. His appeal bid was duly rejected.
His defence team were desperate to obtain evidence to back up Gohil’s claim that Ibori’s solicitors and RISC had improper contact with the investigating officers, but the CPS repeatedly insisted there were no such documents.
Then, in a shock development, prosecutors were forced to reveal the very documents they had always maintained did not exist.
Just days later they dramatically dropped the entire case without explaining why, only admitting that unspecified new information had come to light. In a written submission to Southwark Crown Court, days before the charges were dropped, Gohil’s defence counsel Stephen Kamlish QC claimed the prosecution ‘in bad faith failed to investigate’ who had received cash payments.
In a second submission, he accused the prosecution of a ‘deliberate cover-up’.
In open court last week, Kamlish said he planned to fight a renewed appeal for Gohil on the basis that ‘prosecuting counsel misled not only this court but the Court of Appeal in saying there was no disclosable material’.
The result was, he said, that Gohil’s original appeal against his convictions for money-laundering and fraud had been decided on ‘false facts’.
The Department for International Development (DFID) has been involved in the Ibori case since its outset. It paid for the police inquiry, though at the same time it had invested vast sums in businesses Ibori controlled, prompting claims in court of a conflict of interest.
Last week, it was also claimed that DFID would be paid £25 million from Ibori’s assets when proceedings to seize them are complete. DFID denies this.
When the investigation into the Nigerian billionaire started in 2006, DFID was funding the special Scotland Yard unit dedicated to fighting corruption abroad to the tune of £700,000 a year. This sum has since risen by a staggering 600 per cent: DFID has pledged £21 million to the unit, now part of the National Crime Agency, for the period 2015-20.
This sum is defined as foreign aid, and so counts towards David Cameron’s pledge to donate the equivalent of 0.7 per cent of the UK’s economic output to the developing world annually.
But although DFID was effectively paying for the police inquiry into Ibori, at the same time its investment arm, CDC (formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation), had invested hundreds of millions of pounds into banks and other businesses in which Ibori had huge interests. A DFID spokesman said yesterday there was no conflict of interest in the Ibori case, because although DFID did fund the police unit, it did not influence its operations.
If granted, this appeal would make legal history: normally the Appeal Court cannot hear a case it has already turned down.
Kamlish also told the judge: ‘The investigation by the Department of Professional Standards into Mr Gohil’s allegations of corruption was a whitewash and was deliberately designed to find that no corruption of the type Mr Gohil had complained about existed… it was designed to fail.’
Briefing the BBC in 2012, the Yard admitted that if they had found evidence of corruption it would have wrecked the case against Ibori.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal for the first time today some of the dynamite evidence grudgingly handed over by the Crown, and cited in court, that may have led it to drop the charge against Gohil of perverting the course of justice.
One of the more serious corruption claims concerns an alleged meeting between DC John McDonald, who was investigating Ibori, and RISC director Clifford Knuckey, on September 10, 2007.
According to an RISC document, Knuckey claimed £46.75 in expenses for a meal he enjoyed in a pub with a source that day.
Two days later, it was recorded that he held a ‘meeting with confidential source to hand over source payment for information provided… £5,000.’ Telephone records, also newly revealed, include 120 calls from RISC to Met officers during the Ibori investigation – including one to DC McDonald on the day of the pub meeting.
Another document reveals DC McDonald made 19 unexplained cash deposits into his bank account, most of around £500, while he was working on the case in 2007.
After the pub meeting, private investigator Knuckey provided a report to Ibori’s lawyers detailing secret information he had been given about the case.
Their records stated: ‘CK [Knuckey] explained that he had met with a senior officer on 10 September 2007’ and that ‘DC McDonald (DCM) has had a serious fall out’ with other officers on the case.
A RISC list of payments reveals that between 2006 and 2007 the firm paid some £360,000 to a network of confidential sources in Ibori’s and other cases, delivered in cash by couriers to the firm’s London offices. It is not known if any were serving police officers.
In his court submission, Kamlish claimed the Crown knew ‘that there is clear and compelling, direct and circumstantial evidence of a corrupt relationship between RISC and MPS [Met] officers’.
DC McDonald was arrested and interviewed by Yard investigators in 2012. He admitted speaking to and meeting Knuckey.
But he insisted he never revealed sensitive information, and that he was never paid. He produced written records he had made of phone calls with Knuckey and other RISC staff, which purported to show they did not discuss his work.
DC McDonald was not charged with misconduct or taking bribes and now works for the elite National Crime Agency (NCA).
Knuckey admitted he had obtained £5,000 cash from RISC to pay his confidential informant on the day of the pub meeting.
But he claimed that instead of paying an informant, he took the money for himself, as compensation for a Spanish holiday ruined when RISC made him fly to Paris at very short notice
Other documents cast doubt on this claim. He had not been on holiday when he went to Paris, while he booked his flight a week in advance. He was charged with false accounting, but this case too has been dropped.
Gary Walters, a former detective on the original Ibori investigation, insists there was no corrupt behaviour on his team – but supports the calls for answers as to why the case against Gohil was dropped.
‘I am extremely disappointed that this case continues to rumble on with no meaningful conclusion,’ he told The Mail on Sunday.
‘I was amazed when it suddenly ended with no explanation and I support the calls for a full and independent inquiry. I have yet to see any evidence of corruption on the part of any of the investigators or prosecutors but the decision of the DPP makes clear that there is a need for further investigation and potential prosecutions.’
A CPS spokesman said: ‘As a result of information that came to the attention of the CPS on January 13, 2016, the case was reconsidered. Following that reconsideration, the Crown offered no evidence in court.’
Scotland Yard said: ‘The Metropolitan Police Service investigated an allegation, received anonymously, that illegal payments were made to police officers for information by a private investigation agency.
‘The Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in October 2011 which agreed to supervise a DPS investigation.
‘Five people including one then-serving officer were arrested and released with no further action. Additionally no misconduct was identified in the case of the officer.’
The NCA said: ‘Generally an historic allegation against a police officer which has been investigated by the relevant police force’s professional standards department supervised by the IPCC, in which no misconduct was found, would not represent a barrier to the officer joining the NCA.’
Knuckey’s solicitors Lewis Nedas said: ‘The strain on him has been considerable. Mr Knuckey, who had over 30 years unblemished service in the Metropolitan Police, has always maintained his innocence and that there was no corruption in this case.’
Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in March 2012, Met chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe insisted few things mattered more to him than ensuring police dealt honestly with the media.
Two months later, Commander Peter Spindler, his head of professional standards, had a chance to put Sir Bernard’s words into practice. With Detective Chief Inspector Tim Neligan, he briefed senior BBC reporter Mark Easton about the Ibori corruption allegations.
The briefing was recorded. The transcript shows to Easton’s astonishment that Spindler and Neligan revealed that eight months after a whistleblower had sent them documents suggesting Met detectives had been corrupted by the RISC private investigation firm, they had done nothing to establish if the documents were genuine. They had contacted neither RISC nor their clients, the law firm Speechly Bircham, to which RISC had supplied confidential information – allegedly purchased from corrupt police.
Easton had done so – and Speechly Bircham had told him they thought the papers were authentic.
Instead, Neligan told Easton, he had concentrated on finding out who had sent the documents anonymously to the Yard, MPs and the BBC. Neligan said he believed it was Gohil. ‘This could well be… a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice’ – the crime with which Gohil was charged. Easton interrupted: ‘I thought you were investigating corrupt officers?’ But Neligan said if corruption claims were verified, the convictions of Ibori and Gohil would collapse: ‘A fraud trial that would have been scuppered, OK.’
I pose this critical question to my ever discerning readers: were the two critical elements for justice as identified above – audi alteram partem and nemo judex in causa sua present in the 2012 conviction of Ibori?
Will Ibori get justice when he is being held in the system that unfairly incarcerated him?
Will the British legal system openly own up to their clear miscarriage of justice knowing fully well that this will deal a big blow to their services driven economy?
Is there a conspiracy to deny permanently dent Ibori’s image so as to prevent him from holding public office given his highly influential role in the administration of the Late Umaru Musa Yar’adua which made many members of the cabal most notably the Kaduna mafia highly uncomfortable?
We are waiting and hoping that the English legal system which laid the foundation for all manners of injustice through the slave trade, colonialism, unfair trade agreements during colonial rule, incarceration of nationalists & liberty advocates, neo-colonialism in their shameful acceptance of pilfered money from African and other third world dictators can be honest for once and own up publicly to the unjust denial of Ibori’s fundamental and inalienable right to his freedom of movement.
We want the legal system to prove that indeed Ibori was more sinned against than sinning.