The former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, who was recently released from a British jail after serving his sentence for corruption and money laundering, will be returning home soon after a seven-year absence from Nigeria.
However, Ibori who is still facing assets forfeiture charges in the United Kingdom secured victory at a London court yesterday, when the judge trying his case rejected the request by the British Home Office to get his case transferred to another court.
Ibori, in a statement by his media assistant, Mr. Tony Eluemunor, said the British government had attempted to withdraw the case from Court 5, before Mr. Justice Garnham to either the Queen’s Bench Division or the Crown Court.
But Ibori’s lawyers argued that this was a delay tactic by the Crown. Based on the argument, the judge refused to grant the transfer, insisting that the case will remain in his Royal Court of Justice.
The case before the court was to determine the amount of money Britain will pay Ibori as compensation for the illegal detention he was subjected to when the British Prisons did not allow him to leave on the exact day his prison sentence ended in December last year, but detained him unlawfully and illegally by a day while even seeking for ways to further deny him his freedom.
Later in March, the two sides in the matter will make their final statements and a number of damages to be awarded to Ibori would be decided.
Ibori, in the statement, also confirmed that he would be homeward bound very soon.
Speaking outside the court Tuesday, he told the BBC that he was planning to appeal his conviction and return to Nigeria.
When asked how soon his trip home would be, he said: “As soon as possible, maybe in a matter of days.”
Ibori was mobbed by a large number of Nigerians who came to identify with him in his travails. He shook hands with many of them, exchanging pleasantries.
“Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s in briefing his lawyers may be the only thing standing between Ibori now and his journey to Nigeria,” the statement added.
For instance, there will be mention of the Ibori London case on Friday at the Southwark London Court for the Judge to be fully informed on what is happening with the disclosure process and to ascertain if everybody convicted in the Ibori and related cases will be appealing.