Home » Presidency, Top Stories, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua (2007-10) » Yar’Adua, Aondoakaa pressured UK to drop charges against Ibori – WikiLeaks

Yar’Adua, Aondoakaa pressured UK to drop charges against Ibori – WikiLeaks

The Yar’Adua Administration, with its Justice Minister, Michael Aondoakaa leading the charge, refused to cooperate with Britain on a prisoner transfer agreement unless the United Kingdom dropped corruption charges against former Delta State governor, James Ibori, documents released by WikiLeaks stated on Friday.

Britain, keen to secure an agreement allowing the transfer of more than 400 prisoners back to Nigeria to cut the £40m being used annually to maintain the more than 1,000 Nigerian inmates in British jails, wanted a prisoner swap, The Telegraph reported on its web site.

The newspaper said talks over the agreement stalled after Britain refused to drop charges against Ibori, who is accused of stealing more than £196m of state funds and channelling “dirty money” to Britain.

A diplomatic cable from the US embassy in London claims that Aondoakaa attempted to blackmail British officials into abandoning the corruption case against Ibori, who is currently fighting repatriation to Britain from Dubai over corruption charges.

The cable sent to Washington in May 2009 states, “Nigerian Attorney-General (Michael) Aondoakaa has directly told the UK the [Government of Nigeria] will not begin negotiations on the PTA unless the UK drops its case against former Delta State Governor James Ibori and his associates.”

Two months later, Lin Homer, chief executive of the UK Border Agency, told the Home Affairs select committee that Britain had offered to build a state-of-the-art new prison in Nigeria in return for the transfer of at least 400 Nigerian inmates. The offer was rejected.

Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission brought 170 corruption charges against Ibori in December 2007, but a court in Asaba cleared him in 2009, saying there was no clear evidence on which to convict.

Southwark Crown Court froze UK assets of £17m allegedly belonging to Ibori after the EFCC passed a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Ibori, who denies all charges against him, was arrested in Dubai last May after the intervention of the global police agency Interpol.

Dubai’s highest court ruled in December he could be extradited to Britain to face corruption charges.

Ibori’s sister, Christine, and his mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo, were convicted of money laundering and sentenced to five years in prison at Southwark Crown Court last June.

Britain and Nigeria currently have a voluntary prisoner transfer agreement in place, allowing for the transfer of prisoners on case-by-case basis, only if both governments and the individual inmate all give their consent to the move.

Negotiations over a more comprehensive compulsory agreement are ongoing.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice refused to comment on whether the Nigerian government had pressured Britain to drop the case against Ibori.

He said, “The United Kingdom and Nigeria have a prisoner transfer agreement in place. The scheme allows for the transfer of prisoners between Nigeria and the UK where the consent of both states and the prisoner is obtained. A separate compulsory transfer agreement is currently being negotiated.

“We believe that prisoners should normally serve their sentences in their own country – freeing up prison spaces and saving the taxpayer money on enforced removals.”


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Posted by on Feb 5 2011. Filed under Presidency, Top Stories, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua (2007-10). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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