Former Delta State governor, James Ibori, pleaded guilty in a British court on February 27, 2012, to stealing $250 million of Nigerian state funds which he spent sordidly on luxury houses, cars and a private jet.

Ibori, the governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State from 1999 to 2007, admitted the money-laundering charges after a six-year chase by Britain’s Department for International Development which funds the London Metropolitan Police’s proceeds of corruption unit (POCU), which investigated the case.

Pending his sentencing on April 16 and 17, 2012, it suffices to examine how significant Ibori’s guilty plea is to Nigeria. The very first significance of it is that it will greatly rekindle nationwide and international calls for a more pragmatic and aggressive fight against corruption in Africa’s most populous nation. Indeed, the Ibori guilty plea comes at a time when popular discontent with corruption and waste in government circles is at an all-time high and tempers are flaring amidst rumours that the Jonathan administration, which has made very little headway against what is clearly Nigeria’s biggest problem, will go for full deregulation as from April 1, 2012, and further plunge the masses to more suffering whilst condoning the monsters and looters.

Secondly, it is interesting that Ibori had been exonerated of similar charges by a Nigerian court in 2009 after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had filed a case against him in December 2007. This turn of events is therefore a fitting indictment of our judicial system which is quite guilty of corruption itself as the recent Salami/Katsina-Alu saga showed. It is a shame that Ibori pleaded guilty in a British court after a Nigerian court had declared him free. It is an indication that the judges who set Ibori free should themselves be put on trial for abetting corruption! The independence and integrity of the judiciary remains an indispensable prerequisite for a serious fight against corruption.

Also, on February 4, 2011, WikiLeaks documents stated that the Yar’Adua administration, with its Justice Minister, Michael Aondoakaa, had demanded that the United Kingdom dropped corruption charges against James Ibori. A diplomatic cable from the US embassy in London claimed that Aondoakaa attempted to blackmail British officials into abandoning the corruption case. It is not unthinkable that this actually happened because Ibori bankrolled the PDP’s 2007 presidential campaigns which produced Yar’Adua.

Another important significance of the Ibori guilty plea is that the British authorities began investigating Ibori in 2005 and didn’t give up until now whereas in Nigeria, charges are hastily dropped after corrupt politicians are rushed to the EFCC and their party and other bureaucratic barons intervene to stop cases against them. With that in mind, it won’t be too much to ask for the EFCC, in the interest of justice, to now revisit other graft cases against former politicians after Ibori’s eventual guilty plea. For instance, former governors Joshua Dariye (Plateau) and Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (Bayelsa) are both still wanted in the UK for corruption. Perhaps, the EFCC should collaborate with foreign anti-crime agencies like the UK’s and check the past records of all our former office holders especially from 1999. There are many bigger Iboris in the system – some are even still in office as governors, senators, ministers and so on.

Furthermore, Ibori’s case has greatly exposed the weaknesses in the internal structure of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); a party which had maintained power at the centre since 1999 and also controls more than two-thirds of Nigeria’s states. For one, Ibori, a former convict, ought never to have become governor. The PDP’s selection process that allowed his candidature was heavily flawed as is the case till this day. Also, the PDP accepted a great deal of funds from Ibori for its 2007 presidential bid without properly investigating the source of his wealth. What’s more? Ibori was touted as a likely running mate to late President Yar’Adua in 2011! For a party that prides itself as Africa’s largest, vicious developments like these only go to confirm how corrupt it is.

On the whole, the Ibori $250m theft only goes to emphasise how much corruption is Nigeria’s greatest bane. For President Jonathan, who on October 14, 2011, naively argued that infrastructure, not corruption, was Nigeria’s biggest problem, he should be schooled as to how many rural roads, health centres and schools $250m can fetch!

GOD help Nigeria!


Posted February 28, 2012 by Raymond Eyo in Corruption


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  1. Always on point. An excellent piece which all Nigerians must read especially those awake in our call for a better Nigeria.

  2. Excellent and you have said it all Raymond.
    To buttress your point, guilty plea of Ibori has so much significance in Nigeria’s anti-Corruption crusade and clearly indicates how issues of corruption is being handle with less seriousness in Nigeria.
    As said in a publication (World Bank 1997 :5- Helping Countries Combat Corruption) “Corruption has a political dimension and reflects the way power is exercised in a Country” That makes it difficult for any Ant- Corruption Agencies or Judiciary to find those within the corridors of power guilty of corruption charges.
    If Corruption in Nigerian is not a reflective of power that be, and their dimension is opposite, Government should employ more aggressive way in its fight against corruption, and the Country’s Judicial system should be given more power to be able to carry out its responsibility within the rules of law.

  3. I remember in school, they told us in a democratic settings, each arm serve as a check on each other. Unfortunately, the arms are aiding and abetting each other’s corrupt act here in Nigeria;washing their dirty cloth in the open,( You shut your mouth and go with your bag) If not for the unrelenting effort of U.K, ibori’s issue would have been a settled one. The last time transparency international did a report on the fight on corruption in nigeria, I was ashamed to realize bulk of the case are still unattended to. If the judiciary were effective enough, sure we won’t be seeing all this. I believe in the youth any day or time, gowon was a youth in his days, Ironsi wasn’t too old, Murtalah was younger even at heart to name a few. The older politicians should take a state manship role, advisory and supportive.they can use their wealth of experince better like that, not directly in govt.

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