Former Delta State Governor, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, says he will be considered a madman if he did not appeal a London court judgment confiscating assets worth a whopping sum of $130 million (about £101.244m or N81 billion) or go to jail for eight years.
Ibori had previously forfeited $4.2 million (about £3.271m or N2.61b), which was returned by the British to the Nigerian government.
Ibori is in Nigeria and it is not exactly clear how the Nigerian government will react to the latest development.
In a response to the judgment, Ibori said: “Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that 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 in over a decade since the British Courts have been persecuting myself and those close to me – 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. Despite 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) I still believed. Despite 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 – I still believed.
“However, today’s (Friday) 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 for 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, they have had a restraint order in place on most of those assets and 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 (Friday) 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, this was made in the full knowledge that it could take many months to actually realise the sale of many of these assets. There is an 8 year default sentence, which means that if I do not co-operate 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 co-operating or paying will not arise.
“However, an issue arises if my Restrained Assets are sold, and the total realised 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 years default sentence based on the amounts that remain outstanding. If such an application were to be made it would be vigorously contested. In the normal course of events any talk of a default sentence would normally be stayed until any outstanding Appeal has been concluded.
“The Judge in this case appears to have cast aside any pretence of impartiality and has made an order which is both wholly unrealistic and unrealisable. He has completely disregarded any arguments, evidence or expert witnesses in my favour. 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 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!”
The confiscation order on Ibori id one of the largest imposed on an individual in recent British legal history, according to reports.
Ibori presided over the state of affairs in Delta State between 1999 to 2007 and was extradited from Dubai to Britain in 2011. He pleaded guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering and received a 13-yearjail sentence of which he served half.