Business Hilights
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Oghara in massive traffic lockdown as Ibori returns home Saturday

Former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori arrived Benin Airport Saturday morning with a Chartered flight via Abuja after arriving from London earlier in the morning.

Our correspondent at Abuja Airport reports that in less than five minutes after his aircraft touched the Tarmac in Abuja, he had a brief chat with officials of DSS before organizers of his return whisked into a waiting chartered flight enroute to Benin Airport.

An earlier plan was to land at Warri Airfield but plan changed midway to Benin.

At Benin Airport, he was said to have briefly waved to the waiting crowd and left in a motorcade to Oghara, his home town.

Facts from London showed that Ibori had, on Friday, appeared before a Southwark Crown court in London for his asset forfeiture hearing.

The British Government had accused him of stealing about $250m from the Delta State Government part of which was used in buying six houses and luxury vehicles in the UK, the United States and South Africa.

Business Hilights recalls that as at December when the news of his release from London prison filtered in, over 20 hectres of land in Oghara, Delta State had been cleared and other welcome party arrangements were ongoing.

There were earlier reports that he may be arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the airport on arrival but that has not happened.

Trouble started for the former two times governor of Delta State when his trial at an Asaba High Court was struck out on grounds of poor diligent arraignment only for him to head to Dubai where he was arrested and extradited to Britain for the trail that led to his prison sentence.

Ibori had pleaded guilty as charged in London Court which lead to his sentencing.

But the EFCC took the matter to the Appeal Court where a three-man panel of justices on May 15, 2014, at the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal ruled that the ex- governor, who is currently serving a 13-year jail term in a London prison, has a case to answer.

The appellate court panel, led by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, ordered that the case be re-assigned to another judge of the Federal High Court for continuation of trial.

Before this will happen, Ibori had bolted away to Dubai where he was arrested and extradited to London for trial and subsequent jail term that will ended December 20, last year.

A Southwark Crown court had on April 17, 2012, sentenced Ibori to 13 years in prison after the ex-governor pleaded guilty to 10 counts of money laundering and stealing $250m from the treasury of delta State government.

It would be recalled that the EFCC did subsequently said in a statement in 2014 that the ex-governor would be re-arrested upon the completion of his prison sentence.

The EFCC statement then read, “With this judgment, the coast is clear for Ibori to face trial in Nigeria upon the completion of his jail term in London.”

A twist is likely to emerge on his return as sources at the EFCC suggest that Ibori still has a case to answer but the scenario will be reviewed and charges might be amended.

However, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), looking at the chances of re-arrest said there was no need prosecuting Ibori again as “It will be constitute double jeopardy because he was been punished according to the law and any attempt to arrest him and make him go through the process a second time will be unconstitutional”.

It would be recalled that some of the possessions confiscated from the ex-governor include: a house in Hampstead, North London, worth £2.2m; 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; and a Mercedes-Benz Maybach 62 bought for €407,000 cash.

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