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Nkoyo Ibori: Trial and Verdict Within 2 Weeks - Judge

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LONDON, Nov 04, (THEWILL) – Justice Christopher Hardy of the Southwark Crown Court in London today said he expects to close the trial of Delta State’s former First Lady, Mrs. Theresa Nkoyo Nakanda Ibori within two weeks from today.

The judge gave the notice as Mrs. Ibori took the stand for the forth straight to answer questions in her money laundering trial. She was question for about 12 minutes.

At today’s hearing, the head of the prosecuting team, Mr. Borelli tried to link Mrs. Ibori’s trial to the charges preferred against her husband, Chief James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State who is being detained in Dubai for a possible extradition to London at the request of the UK government.

But her counsel, Mr. Winter, who is representing her courtesy of legal aid objected to the prosecution’s tactics which he described as ‘misleading the jury’, arguing that the charges being preferred against Chief Ibori have not been proven beyond reasonable doubt in Nigeria or London. He said they were ‘mere allegations.’

His objection was however overruled by Judge Hardy who said he did not see anything misleading in the prosecution’s style and asked him to continue.

The head of prosecution said he wanted to cross-examine Mrs. Ibori on a number of issues that were raised earlier during the course of the trial which needed further clarification.

During this process, the names of a certain Mr. Olutokunboh (no last name), referred to as Chief Ibori’s assistant at the time he was governor and the present Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who was at that time the Secretary of State to Delta State Government and cousin to Chief Ibori were mentioned.

At Tuesday’s hearing Governor Uduaghan and Mr. Olutokunboh were alleged to have handled questionable transactions on behalf of Chief Ibori. Mrs. Ibori was asked if the same Uduaghan is the current Delta Governor and her answer was affirmative. She was also asked to spell the name of Mr. Olutokunboh which she did.

Mrs. Ibori was also asked about her present relationship with James Ibori and she responded by saying that she has not been able to have a lengthy conversation with him since his detention in Dubai in May, this year. She added that he calls her only once in a week and that the longest time they are allowed to speak is for about three minutes.

She was also asked why she had not sought to cut off all ties with the ex-governor since she claims that their marriage has been in shambles due to Chief Ibori's ‘numerous extra marital affairs and mistresses outside the marriage’ and her response was that she had been threatened by Chief Ibori, who she claimed threatened to cut off financial support for herself and her daughters if she moves for a divorce. Her counsel then added that her inability to pay her legal fees was the reason why her former counsel withdrew his services and she was granted the services of a legal aid.

She was also asked about her involvement in Halloway Properties, a company that was used by Chief Ibori to acquire properties in the UK and if she knew when this company was incorporated but Mrs. Ibori's reply to that was a 'NO'. She was also asked about one of Chief Ibori's women, a certain Geraldine Uju Ononiba, who was pregnant for the ex governor at the time of the alleged crimes and Mrs. Ibori said she had heard rumours about ‘this particular lady’ and she had got the woman's full name and address in the United States which she wrote down because she wanted to confront her husband about her being his mistress.

Mrs. Ibori was then questioned about staying at an Abbey road flat and using the Advance Chauffer Service from that address but she replied that she never resided at that address or used the service from the flat. She was then asked about bills that she saw from the Advance Chauffer Service company and her awareness of some of these bills signed in the name of Mrs. Uju Ibori, and she replied by saying that she saw the bills.

Before Mrs. Ibori left the dock, her counsel, Mr. Winter raised a point on the decision taken Mr. Bhadresh Gohil, Chief Ibori’s former London lawyer and a co-accused in the trial. Mr. Gohil had declined to take the stand in the trial against Mrs. Ibori and said he was fully aware of the implications of his decision.

Justice Hardy thereafter brought Thursday’s proceeding to an end and informed the court that he intends to wrap up the trial and deliver judgement within two weeks.

The trial continues on Friday, November 05, 2010.