Ibori: How a convicted thief in 1992 (in UK) and a grocery store clerk with a $5,000 a-year salary became governor of oil rich DeltaDelta, Raw Politics, State News, Top Stories Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
A few years after quitting his £5,000-a-year job as a cashier for Wickes, Ibori had
become one of Nigeria’s most influential and richest politicians.
He wasted no time spending his new-found wealth on luxury homes, top-of-the-
range cars, five-star travel and fees at exclusive boarding schools.
But on Monday the 49-year-old stood shame-faced in the dock of London’s
Southwark Court as he admitted stealing tens of millions of pounds from the oil-
rich state he governed in Nigeria. Scotland Yard detectives believe his fraud could
He was on trial in the UK because much of the stolen money was laundered
through his London office.
Ibori moved from Nigeria to West London in the late 1980s and was found guilty of
stealing goods from the Wickes store he worked at in Ruislip in 1990.
A year later he was convicted of handling a stolen credit card. He moved back to
Nigeria and worked for then Nigerian Head of State, Sani Abacha, as a policy
Rising quickly through the ranks of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, he was
voted governor of Delta State in 1999, winning re-election four years later.
In power, he systematically stole from the public purse, taking kickbacks and
transferring state funds to his own bank accounts around the world.
He was helped by family members, including his wife Theresa, sister Christine
Ibori-Ibie, his mistress Udoamaka Oniugbo, and Mayfair lawyer Bhadresh Gohil.
A massive police investigation into Ibori’s activities revealed he had bought six
properties in London, including a six-bedroom house with indoor pool in
Hampstead for £2.2m and a flat opposite the nearby Abbey Road recording
There was also a property in Dorset, a £3.2m mansion in South Africa and further
real estate in Nigeria.
He owned a fleet of armoured Range Rovers costing £600,000 and a £120,000
Bentley. On one of his trips to London he bought a Mercedes Maybach for more
than £300,000 at a dealer on Park Lane and immediately shipped it to South
He bought a private jet for £12m, spent £126,000 a month on his credit cards and
ran up a £15,000 bill for a two-day stay at the Lanesborough hotel in London.
Prosecutor Sasha Wass told the court Ibori concealed his UK criminal record,
which would have excluded him from office in Nigeria.
“He was never the legitimate governor and there was effectively a thief in
government house,” Miss Wass said.
“As the pretender of that public office, he was able to plunder Delta State’s wealth
and hand out patronage.”
The court heard Ibori abused his position to award contracts to his associates
including his sister and his mistress.
Scotland Yard began its investigation into Ibori after officers found two computer
hard drives in his London office that revealed his criminality.
He was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in
December 2007, but two years later a court in his home town, Asaba, dismissed
the charges saying there was not enough evidence.
When the case was reopened by Nigerian authorities in April 2010, Ibori fled to
Dubai where he was detained at the request of the Metropolitan Police and
extradited to the UK last April.
In a packed courtroom Ibori, dressed in a dark grey suit and black shirt, appeared
in the dock to enter ten guilty pleas to fraud, money laundering and conspiracy on
what was due to be the first day of a 12-week trial.
His wife, his mistress and his sister were all jailed for five years each for money
laundering offences following earlier trials.
Last March, Gohil, 46, and described as Ibori’s London-based lawyer, was jailed
for seven years for his role in the scam.
Attempts will be made to confiscate as much of Ibori’s money and assets as
possible so that they can be returned to Nigeria.
The Met’s Detective Inspector Paul Whatmore said, “It is always rewarding for
anyone working on a proceeds of corruption case to know that the stolen funds
they identify will eventually be returned to some of the poorest and most
vulnerable people in the world.”
Ibori will be sentenced on April 16 and 17.
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