James Ibori vows to appeal ₦101.1 billion confiscation order, citing lack of impartiality
Former governor of Delta State, Mr James Ibori, has accused London judge, David Tomlinson, of impartiality for ordering the confiscation of his £101.5 million Pounds which is ₦101,143,847,363.27 in Naira yesterday, which he argues is “both wholly unrealistic and unrealizable.”
Judge David Tomlinson delivered the confiscation order at Southwark Crown Court, stating that Ibori should pay the sum immediately or face an eight-year jail sentence.
Reacting after a court hearing outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Britain, the former governor said he would appeal against the confiscation order, finding it difficult to comprehend and even harder to accept.
In his statement, Ibori said, “Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, ‘The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.’ If that is true, then I must be going mad because for over a decade, the British Courts have been persecuting me and those close to me, and yet, I kept believing that justice and fairness would eventually triumph.
“In hearing after hearing through the years, despite some of the most logic-defying rulings against me, I still believed. There was clear evidence of police corruption against the main officer in my case, evidence so strong that it caused the lead prosecutor to resign from my case, but still, I believed. I also had a clear victory in my 2013 Confiscation hearing, which left the Judge unable to make an order against me, only to have him rule that the prosecution should start the trial afresh some years later – and still, I believed.
“However, today’s ruling from Judge Tomlinson is difficult to comprehend and even harder to accept. I have to move past the fact that the British Courts found themselves competent to sit in judgment over contracts awarded in Delta State, contracts that were legitimately awarded and completed. I have come to accept my fate despite the inability of the British prosecutors to show any evidence whatsoever of monies defrauded or indeed missing from Delta State.
“Since 2005, the British Prosecutors have investigated my assets worldwide, and they have had a restraint order in place on most of those assets. They are well aware that the total monetary value of those assets is nowhere close to the sums that were the subject of today’s Order. Notwithstanding the fact that many of the assets are not and have never been owned by me – it seems that if you are my friend and you allowed me to spend some holiday time in your house, then by this order, I now own your home and must ask you to sell it to satisfy the Order.
“The Order made today was to be paid immediately, despite the knowledge that it could take many months to actually realize the sale of many of these assets. There is an 8-year default sentence, which means that if I do not cooperate and pay nothing at all, then the prosecution can apply for the imposition of the default sentence. However, as the prosecution already has a Restraint Order over the assets, the situation of my not cooperating or paying will not arise.
“An issue arises if my Restrained Assets are sold, and the total realized from the sale does not equal the amount in the Order, then the Prosecution can still apply for part of the default sentence to be applied. But they could only ask for a sliding scale reduction of the 8-year default sentence based on the amounts that remain outstanding. If such an application were to be made, it would be vigorously contested. Normally, any talk of a default sentence would be stayed until any outstanding Appeal has been concluded.
“The Judge in this case appears to have cast aside any pretense of impartiality and has made an Order that is both wholly unrealistic and unrealizable. He has completely disregarded any arguments, evidence, or expert witnesses in my favor. It was apparent during these last two days that he has forgotten many of the important elements of the case, which is unsurprising as it is almost two years since the case was concluded. It has taken him two years to write this Judgment, and in the interim, he has presided over hundreds of cases, but I refuse to make excuses for him.
“At this point in time, words fail me, and so the question for me as I take my case to the Court of Appeal is, if I continue to believe that I may finally get some Justice, is this the definition of madness? I know one thing for sure, that if I do not go to the Court of Appeal to contest this outrageous Order, then my people will definitely say that I am a madman.”