Contrary to media reports, Media Assistant to Chief James Onanefe Ibori, Tony Eluemunor released from jail on Wednesday, Thursday said the two-term Delta State Governor, is not under any Police restrictions or surveillance and does not have to report to the Police at all.
In a statement, Eluemunor said even a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report of Wednesday, entitled “Nigerian ex-Governor James Ibori Released From UK Jail,” stated that much, when it noted that “on Wednesday, the Home Office’s barrister said the government was concerned that Ibori might ‘frustrate confiscation proceedings’ and wanted him kept in jail or subject to strict controls on his movement. A Home Office application that Ibori be electronically tagged and subject to strict curfew conditions was also rejected after the judge accepted arguments that the home secretary was attempting to misuse her immigration and deportation powers”.
Eluemunor said this clarification became necessary due to the conflicting reports in several media organisations over the terms guiding his release.
“A mischievous on-line publication misled many Nigerians into believing that Ibori would wear an ankle tag that would beam his whereabouts to the Police and also report weekly to the Police. But from the quoted BBC report, no such order ever came from the court but from some corrupt and corrupting minds,” he added.
In fact, he continued, the BBC, quoting the Judge, Her Honour, Mrs. Justice Juliet May, Queen’s Counsel, said: “The position of the Secretary of State, as very candidly set out by Mr Birdling (representing the home secretary), is that she accepts that there is an argument that she has no power to detain him.
“I have decided that the balance of convenience falls heavily in favour of his (Ibori’s) immediate release. I am not prepared to impose conditions involving tagging or curfews.”
According to Eluemunor, Chief Ibori has given every thanks and glory to the Almighty God, for making his release from jail possible, despite the last-minute obstacle the British Secretary of State placed on his way. He is grateful to his team of lawyers who fought gallantly for his release. He sent his heart-felt gratitude to the dozens of mainstream news organisations, especially in Britain and Nigeria, that trained attention on the relentless persecution, instead of prosecution, he was receiving and which also led to the investigation of those who had earlier investigated and prosecuted him; the result was a far-reaching corruption indictments within such agencies. That was when the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, heeding the call of the journalists, demanded a review of the evidence following allegations that police took bribes and prosecutors covered it up.
“The review team found material to support the assertion that a police officer received payment in return for information,” the CPS admitted in September, the BBC reported.
Beyond all else, Ibori thanked his supporters across the country for standing with him all through his travails.
“Specially, he thanks Niger Deltans for standing solidly behind him and assured them that the justice and equity they seek both for themselves and others in a peaceful, united, prosperous and just Nigeria will one day be achieved.”
Eluemunor added that many Nigerians may not appreciate the depth of the legal victory Ibori achieved on Wednesday.
A different verdict, he added, “would have sent him into an indefinite detention, because the confiscation hearing the British Home Secretary wanted to detain Ibori for until it is concluded is a second one. The first one ended September 2013, with no proof of theft of any money from Delta state. Just when judgment was to be given, the prosecution asked for a retrial just because they had no evidence of any theft. Surprisingly, the court granted them their wish.
Or, as Vanguard newspaper published on October 8, 2013, “Assets confiscation: UK court orders retrial of Ibori’s Case: A United Kingdom court yesterday ordered a retrial of assets confiscation case against former Governor James Ibori of Delta State to enable the prosecution gather enough evidence. The London Metropolitan Police which is prosecuting the former governor had admitted in open court on the last day of the hearing that they lacked enough evidence to support allegations of fraud, corruption and money laundering against Ibori. The trial judge, Mr Anthony Pitts, therefore granted the Crown Prosecution’s request and adjourned for a retrial after both the prosecution and defence have made their final submissions in the hearing which was supposed to end yesterday. Reacting to Judge Anthony Pitts’ judgment, James Ibori said “after eight years of criminal investigations, five adjournments and over 50 trips to Nigeria, the prosecution failed to provide any tangible evidence to support their claim that I defrauded Delta State. Their case collapsed to such an extent that on the very last day of a three weeks hearing, they were humbled into making an application to the judge for permission to start again which the Judge unceremoniously granted”.
Now that Ibori’s associates in the case, especially Mr. Bhadresh Gohil, has appealed his conviction, and Ibori’s lawyers are considering going on appeal too, the appeals will have to end before the confiscation hearing may ever begin.
Also, nobody knows how long they may last, he stressed, noting that Ibori would have remained indefinitely in detention.
“His freedom from this indefinite detention is the essence of Wednesday’s victory. And if the appeals are sustained, there will be no confiscation hearing at all,” Eluemunor further explained