In a recent development, a socio-political group, Rescue Nigeria Economy Project, has strongly criticized the verdict of the UK court regarding the confiscation of 101.5 million pounds ($130 million) from former Delta State governor, Chief James Ibori.
Judge David Tomlinson issued the confiscation order at Southwark Crown Court, demanding immediate payment from Ibori or an eight-year jail sentence.
In a statement, issued on Friday, the Group’s Executive Secretary, Dennis Alamu-George, contends that the UK government, under the guidance of Judge Tomlinson, appears more focused on persecuting Ibori than seeking true justice.
The group alleged the requirement for immediate payment, an unprecedented move in confiscation orders, raises concerns and smacks of prejudice against Ibori.
“For us, this is a very complex and complicated persecution. We have been following the matter between Ibori and the UK government and we strongly believe the issue goes beyond acts of corruption as the UK government wants the world to believe.”
Citing a previous incident in 2016 when the Home Office attempted to electronically tag and impose strict curfew conditions on Ibori upon his release, the group underscores the pattern of perceived unfair treatment against him. It noted that Justice May, rejecting the Home Secretary’s bid to detain Ibori, stated that such attempts were “quite extraordinary,” emphasizing that holding someone without genuine plans for deportation was unjust.
“You don’t hold someone just because it is convenient to do so and without plans to deport them,” the group recalled Justice May reportedly said at the time.
The group added that “The judge also accepted arguments that the home secretary was attempting to misuse her immigration and deportation powers.
“In the recent case, we unequivocally reject the order by the court that Ibori should make payments immediately or be jailed. By the judgment, Judge Tomlinson is trying to railroad Ibori into making payments. That to us, is an abuse of fair hearing. He has promised to appeal the ruling up to the Supreme Court level in the UK. That fundamental rights should be respected.”
The group also called for calm and restraint from Nigerians, urging them to allow the legal process to run its course.
It sought Nigerian government’s firm stance in supporting its citizens, especially those facing undue persecution by Western nations.
In the case of Ibori, the group urged the Nigerian government to back his pursuit of redress in the highest courts of the United Kingdom.
“This is just the beginning of long years of litigation to come before any conclusions can be reached. We are fully in support of Ibori’s decision to appeal. Our hope is justice will prevail eventually” the group said.