As former governor of Delta state, in Nigeria, Chief James Onanefe Ibori who is currently serving jail terms in United Kingdom (UK) prison about to finish his time in the prison and gain his freedom to return to Nigeria. The UK Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched fresh investigations into the original London Metropolitan Police case officers involved in the James Onanefe Ibori case.
The Officers in the case were DC Peter Clark, DC John McDonald, DC Ben Irons, DC Mathew Hurding-Jones, DC David Cocks, DS George Simpson, DI Gary Walters and AFI Paul Gardiner.
Tony Eluemunor, Ibori’s media Assistant, in a press statement, released on Sunday said: “These officers, some with the National Crime Agency are believed to have been served with anti-corruption notices. Surprisingly, they remain on active duty while the investigation continuous.
“These same officers, who worked for the Department of foreign Investment and Development (DfID) funded ‘Proceeds of Corruption Unit with the MPS were investigated in 2012, after Bhadresh Gohil alerted the authorities of police corruption at the heart of the James Ibori investigation and prosecution.
“Unknown to Gohil, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) had themselves independently suspected deep rooted corruption in relation to these officers and had itself conducted a covert surveillance operation, code-named – “Operation Limonium”.
“Despite substantial evidence, the MPS white washed its investigations because making such public before Ibori’s trial was concluded could shot down the conviction of Ibori and his associates. Now, that whitewash has become a bullet in the armoury of Ibori’s lawyers as they head to the Court of Appeal, where that failure will be pleaded as yet another infraction against the Police.
“The case has now been referred to the Commissioner of Police – Sir Bernard Hogan Howe. Hogan-Howe himself was weighed down by a barrage of criticism so voluminous that he last September he applied to retire in February 2017.
“Even as the MPS has been struggling to contain the damning disclosures by mainstream British media from the BBC to the Times, Guardian, Mail, Telegraph, detailing how it misled the courts in the Ibori and related cases, fresh evidence of corrupt payments and unlawfully activity has recently been discovered in a Crown Prosecution Service/National Crime Agency (CPS/NCA) investigation named “Project Phoenix”.”
Eluemunor further said: “This investigation has been conducted under the direct guidance of the U.K.’s Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions – Alison Saunders to examine the safety of James Ibori’s conviction. it is being spearheaded by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Defence lawyers will now provide substantial input before it releases its report.
“The CPS/NCA prematurely announced that the Ibori conviction remains safe, wrongly assuming the role of the Appeal Court. It is facing a severe embarrassment as the material that remains undisclosed demonstrates the huge failures of the original investigations.
“As the IPCC investigation continues, further disclosures now show the legitimacy of the V Mobile transaction. Substantial material undisclosed by the Met Police has already been uncovered. The police officers and prosecutors appear to have built a totally false case, thereby misleading the Courts.
“Throughout 2016, the Ibori case was totally stalled and it never advanced an inch. Also, the Ibori case has turned into a poisoned chalice for newly appointed prosecutors who have since February 2016 further delayed the disclosure process denying the various defendants the ability to take their cases to the Court of Appeal.
“Despite repeated assurances of proper disclosure and yet violating stipulated deadlines, the CPS continues to withhold substantial material, and the appeal process has thus not started. The latest round of disclosure scheduled for October has now been postponed to 19 December 2016. Fortunately for Ibori, the delay will not affect his release date, which is fast approaching.
“Mike Schwarz of Bindmans, the UK leading human rights lawyers, who at one time represented Bhadresh Gohil has been appointed to represent Theresa Ibori in the appeal. She has appointed Clare Montgomery QC, one of UK’s highest regarded barristers, in relation to her Appeal.
“The UK judicial system is now firmly in the spotlight. Whether it can be trusted to act honourable remains to be seen. These cases highlight the worst possible and illegal conduct of police officers, crown prosecutors and civil servants, and perhaps, never before has a confiscation hearing, or a pending appeal, been so delayed.”