James Ibori, a former governor of Delta state, has lost the bid to appeal his conviction by a UK court.
In a swift response, he has instructed his lawyers to file a case at the European court of human rights.
A UK court had convicted Ibori and Bhadresh Gohil, his lawyer, of money laundering.
Ibori, who served as Delta governor from 1999 to 2007, pleaded guilty to a 10-count charge of fraud involving sums amounting to at about $66 million.
He was slammed a 13-year jail term of which he served six years and returned to Nigeria in February 2017.
Ibori had sought to appeal his 2012 conviction in a bid to upturn the ongoing trial to confiscate his assets.
He alleged misconduct by British police and prosecutors, which, he argued, tainted the judicial process.
However, an appeal court sitting on Wednesday struck out the ex-governors case.
“If (the policeman) was corrupt, Ibori was the instigator or at the very least intimately involved in any such corruption,” the court ruled.
“Regardless of any disclosure failures on the part of the Crown (prosecutors), Ibori was thoroughly informed on this topic prior to his pleas of guilty.”
The ruling will allow British prosecutors to resume efforts to confiscate tens of millions of dollars’ worth of assets and return them to Nigerian public coffers.
The assets have been frozen for years while the case has been dragging through the courts.
Gohil, who also appealed his 2011 conviction, had lost his appeal in February.
IBORI HEADS TO EU COURT
In a press statement, Ibori has announced his intention to file a case at the Eurpean court of human rights.
He said: “At 11: AM today, judgment of the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, was handed down. Once again the British Courts have unjustifiably denied me justice. The injustice contrived against me continued at the Court of Appeal. By this denial, I have been prevented from challenging my conviction even though the Crown Prosecution accepts the fact that there was a proven case of Police corruption.
“The Court of Appeal declined my application for leave to appeal my conviction based on Crown Prosecution (CPS) and Police disclosure failures compounded by police corruption unearthed way before I even arrived in the UK. The allegation of Police corruption, at least of Mr. John Macdonald, the Investigating Police Officer in my case, started on or about 10th of September 2007 while I was still in Nigeria. This issue of police corruption was raised by a different agency of the UK government working on an entirely different case at the time.
“This material fact should have been disclosed to my legal team on my arrival in the UK but it was not disclosed because the Crown Prosecution Service and the London Metropolitan Police knew the devastating and fatal impact that would have had on the case against me. The UK authorities chose deliberately to cover it up even though my legal team asked that all-important question in open court.
“This continued cover-up, which is inimical to justice delivery, has been displayed again today by the Court of Appeal when it denied me the opportunity to appeal my conviction at the Appeal Court and possibly the Supreme Court of England and Wales. This is international conspiracy carried too far to the detriment of the integrity of the British Judicial System. ”Numerous people have asked me to discontinue the appeal adding: ‘But what do they care. It’s a matter that has to do with a bunch of “corrupt” Nigerians. They can throw judicial decency to the dogs’.
“I say to the members of the public who have shown personal concern for my predicament that I will strive with every breath of energy in me to pursue the cause of justice not only for my sake but because it is the right thing to do to make the world a better place and to defend the rights of the down-trodden.
“So, I have put my legal team on notice to explore every legal avenue to expose this massive cover-up – including applying to the European Court of Human Rights to ensure that this assault on my fundamental rights does not stand.
“As I said in an earlier statement, the British judiciary is supposed to rest on a strong foundation of openness, transparency and the rule of law. My legal team have done their best to draw attention to the issue of disclosure and the protocol associated with materials obtained through interception. It is a short and simple case that does not require the length of time it has taken to adjudicate. It’s either my application for permission to appeal is granted, based on the fatal nature of the disclosure-failure, or a brutal assault on the integrity of British Justice would be committed. The Crown Prosecution Service, the Metropolitan Police and the Department for Professional Standards deliberately spat on the law when they wilfully disregarded the stipulations of the law governing the use of disclosures. This flaw is unpardonable in the British legal system even in serious cases like terrorism much less fraud and money laundering of which prison terms have been served and expired”. Well, today, a brutal assault was committed against the delivery of justice in the UK.
“Unfortunately, I am the victim of this assault on the delivery of justice and this ruling further exposes the failing of the British legal system. Evidence exists which confirms the police corruption in my case, the Court is of aware of it, the prosecution is aware of it, and even though it was withheld from my legal team, they have now become aware of it.
“The Court of Appeal did not permit my legal team to even refer to this evidence let alone advance it as part of our case. Even now, I am not permitted to disclose the nature of this evidence for fear of committing an offence. In these circumstances, my legal team argued that there were only two options available. One; the prosecution should concede the appeal, or the Court should halt proceedings as an abuse of process because a fair hearing was no longer possible.
“Disappointingly, both the prosecution and the court took the view that saving face was more important than dispensing justice. Yet, I am fully resolved to challenge the ruling of the Court of Appeal at the European Court of Human Rights. Let the days be gone when British legal luminaries come to give seminars in Africa boasting about having the best legal system in the world.
“I thank my legal team for a great job. They have fought gallantly to save the British justice delivery from those undermining it. I have no doubt in my mind that justice will come my way – eventually and no matter how long it takes.”
The statement was signed by Tony Eluemunor, his media aide.