Strong indications emerged late Tuesday night that former Governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori, may have completed his prison term in the United Kingdom and is out of jail.
A Long Lartin prison source in Worcestershire was quoted as saying, “he is out of here.” Ibori was handed a 13year term in April 2012 by a Southwark Crown court in London for money laundering in hundreds of millions of pounds, money allegedly stolen from the Delta state government when he was governor from 1999 to 2007.
Ibori was arrested on May 13, 2010 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates under Interpol arrest warrants issued from United Kingdom courts and enacted by the Metropolitan Police.
He had earlier being freed on the same charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, including a $15 million bribe he allegedly offered the then EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu.
Ibori’s case and extradition became one of the longest, most complex and expensive operations mounted by Scotland Yard in recent years.
Prosecutors alleged that companies owned by Ibori and his family were beneficiaries from the sale of state assets, including shares in Econet, a GSM telephone operator, as well as crude oil deliveries.
Before his conviction, UK juries two years earlier found James Ibori’s sister, Christine Ibie-Ibori and his mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo, guilty on counts of money laundering, in a verdict delivered at the Southwark Crown Court, London.
On 27 February 2012, Ibori himself was docked, accused of stealing US$250 million from the Nigerian public purse.
He pleaded guilty to ten counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud. Among possessions confiscated were a house in Hampstead, north London, for £2.2million, a property in Shaftesbury, Dorset for £311,000, a £3.2m mansion in Sandton, near Johannesburg South Africa, a fleet of armoured Range Rovers valued at £600,000,a £120,000 Bentley Continental GT, A Mercedes-Benz Maybach bought for €407,000 cash, that was shipped direct to his mansion in South Africa
After the sentencing hearing, Sue Patten, head of the Crown Prosecution Service central fraud group, said it would bid to confiscate the assets Ibori had acquired his riches “at the expense of the some of the poorest people in the world.
Also jailed with him apart from his sister and mistress were his wife, Theresa Nkoyo Ibori, his lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil and his financial advisors, Daniel McCann and Lambertus De Boer.
Born in Oghara, 57 years ago, James Ibori was educated at Baptist High school, now Oghareki Grammar School. From there, he went to the University of Benin, where he studied economics and statistics.
After his university education, he moved to the United Kingdom, where he worked at Wickes DIY, married his wife, Theresa and tainted his record with two convictions for theft and credit card fraud that were to later haunt his political career in Nigeria.
He became governor of Delta state in 1999 and served for eight years.
Efforts to get his spokesperson, Mr. Tony Elemunor to confirm the release were unsuccessful as calls to his line were unanswered.