NGOs urge UK to return politician's loot to Nigeria

2023-09-30 13:48:24
NGOs urge UK to return politician's loot to Nigeria

British and Nigerian civil society groups have called on the British government to quickly and transparently repatriate the money seized from convicted fraudster James Ibori, a Nigerian politician, so that the money can benefit ordinary Nigerians.

A coalition of nearly 50 non-governmental organizations said in a letter to British home and foreign ministers that the protracted confiscation process undermined the strong anti-corruption message sent by Ibori's conviction more than a decade ago.

"The years of disruption and delay in recovering and returning these stolen assets means this message has so far rung hollow for the Nigerian people," said the letter, which was published by one of the signatories, Spotlight on Corruption.

Ibori, a former governor of southern Nigeria's oil-producing Delta state, pleaded guilty in a London court in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money laundering and was sentenced to 13 years in prison, about half of which he served before returning home.

Still influential in Nigeria, Ibori has met with President Bola Tinubu in recent months and has friends and associates in other high-profile positions.

Non-governmental organizations, which included Transparency International and the African Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, said the money confiscated from him should be used for projects that benefit the people of Delta State and that civil society should monitor their implementation.

British prosecutors began attempts to seize Ibori's assets in 2013, but faced repeated obstacles and delays in London courts.

In July, a judge ordered him to forfeit 101.5 million pounds ($123.9 million), one of the largest orders under Britain's 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act since it came into force.

He has applied for leave to appeal the order and his application is in the early stages of the appeal process.

(Source: Agencies)

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