A former governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori, who is serving a jail term in a London prison over corrupt practices, has appealed against his conviction, calling for an independent investigation.
Ibori, who denied that a British court had upheld his conviction, also detailed revelations of alleged police corruption and non-disclosure in the case.
According to a statement signed by his media aide, Tony Eluemunor, yesterday, the argument that the British National Crime Agency (NCA) has confirmed that police officers, working within the elite Department for International Development-funded Police Unit, were corrupt, and had withheld substantial material from the defence teams, was misunderstood by the Nigerian media.
Eluemunor said: “The import of last week’s statement from the NCA was misunderstood by the Nigerian media, which screamed that Ibori’s conviction was upheld, as though an Appeal Court had ruled on the matter.
“In a press statement on Sunday, September 18, 2016, some TV networks had from Friday through Saturday published on their news bars the lie that a British court had upheld Ibori’s conviction.
“The NCA report simply confirmed explosive revelations of corruption and abuse of the British court process by the Prosecution Service, such as disclosure rules guiding British court procedures. The report is a damning and fatal indictment on the prosecution of Ibori and linked cases.
“The report, however, strangely concluded that the police officers’ corruption in the case and their withholding of material from the defence do not undermine the safety of the convictions. This surprising finding is at odds with the primary findings and so will now be tested to its fullest in the British courts. The question was whether there were malicious cover-ups and if the courts were misled; and the reports said yes, there were.
“Thus, at best, the report is another cover-up for an earlier one, and an attempt at media manipulation. But the Crown Prosecution Service cannot fundamentally determine whether the conviction is safe or doomed; only the courts can so determine. Also an independent investigation will be called to determine and document the police corruption and lack of due process level for posterity.”
The statement stressed that even the report did not exonerate Detective Sergeant John McDonald, the officer at the heart of Ibori’s investigation, from corrupt payment allegations.
“The two fundamental developments in relation to corruption and the withholding of material represent a tremendous victory for Bhadresh Gohil, Ibori’s former lawyer, who has long maintained police corruption and misconduct at the heart of the prosecutions. Gohil has taken the matter before the Appeal Courts,” he stated.
Eluemunor continued: “Legal experts have confirmed that the Crown Prosecution’s position is untenable and flies in the face of all known constitutional safeguards and undermines every sense of fair and open justice. Corrupt police officers and the withholding of key material do not permit for a fair trial, and so the English legal system justifiably frowns at such.
“The case demonstrates the truly shocking behaviour of the British Crown Prosecution Service. Despite the overwhelming evidence of corruption by British anti-corruption officers, it continues to prosecute James Ibori and others when it now has in its possession evidence as to the source of his funds. It is believed that Ms. Saunders’s position is now untenable. As the Director of Public Prosecutions, she has engineered a shocking cover-up.”
He noted that surprisingly, the September 16, 2016 BBC report written by Mark Easton, Home Editor, and entitled, “New evidence supports cover-up claims in Ibori case” was totally different from what appeared in the Nigerian media.
According to the BBC report: “Claims that Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) covered up evidence of police corruption in a high-profile money-laundering case have been given new weight after the discovery of a substantial number of documents suggesting an officer did take bribes.
“The previously undisclosed material came to light after the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, demanded a review into the conviction of Nigerian politician, James Ibori.
“The internal investigation followed allegations by defence lawyers that prosecutors had ‘willfully misled’ judges about the existence of evidence that could support corruption claims. Now defence solicitors are being sent previously unseen documents discovered during the review.”