By SaharaReporters, New York
James Onanefe Ibori, who is known to be awaiting extradition to the United Kingdom to face money-laundering charges, may already be a free man following the intervention of the Government of Nigeria, a source in the Nigeria government said today.
Another source in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said that Ibori has been allowed to move to a hospital facility to treat a “heart condition” but the Nigeria government source described that as a ruse to grant Ibori time to sort out his release and plot his immediate future. He is expected to return to Nigeria as a “hero”.
The source noted that in the past few months, Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, has made, at least, eight secret trips to the United Kingdom on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan, to negotiate Ibori’s release.
SaharaReporters has previously reported that Mr. Jonathan, working with Ibori’s cousin and Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, was negotiating with the UK to have Ibori returned to Nigeria rather than be extradited to the UK to face money laundering charges similar to the ones that have so far sent his wife, sister, lawyer, one mistress and other accomplices to jail in that country.
UK Home Office sources told SaharaReporters that Ibori has lately engaged in various legal ploys to remain permanently in Dubai, where he was picked up by Interpol last year before two courts in the UAE ruled that he should be extradited to the UK to face charges of money-laundering.
As previously revealed by SaharaReporters, Ibori exploited another legal loophole in the UAE a few weeks ago by deliberately engaging in real estate fraud. Sources said Ibori and his lawyers voluntarily admitted to engaging in a mortgage transaction malfeasance that, by design, saw him beginning a new round of legal trials in the UAE.
The UAE extradition treaty, as amended, requires that once an extradition candidate commits any offense in the UAE, that offense must first be discharged before the accused person can be transferred.
Taking advantage of this provision, Ibori apparently decided he could help his own cause with layers of offences. It was while he was awaiting trial for the so-called mortgage fraud that he began to orchestrate a sudden “medical condition,” claiming his health had deteriorated immensely.
A source told the story of his Dubai release as this: "He (Ibori) was granted what a judge referred to as “medical reprieve,” a semi-bail condition that permits him easier living conditions within a medical facility. In his new location, Ibori will enjoy a telephone and fewer restrictions."
All of this provided time for the negotiations between President Jonathan and the current government of the UK, which is not as interested in Nigeria, or in the Ibori matter, as the previous Labor governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
To underscore the hush-hush nature of Ibori's so called “medical release,” his media aide, Tony Eluemunor, today sent a media guide to selected journalists saying, "Dear Colleagues, I am not issuing a statement yet. But owing to a deluge of inquiries about Ibori in Dubai, please find here the bare facts that could inform your reportage. Please don't quote me as I did not issue any statement officially. Thanks.”
He then wrote, "It appears some reprieve has come the way of the embattled former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, in Dubai at the weekend, though details were still sketchy at press time. It was gathered that the United Arab Emirate authorities may have been swayed by Ibori’s deteriorating health conditions and thus granted him access needed to provide himself with adequate health care.”
That seems to be coded language meant to prepare sympathetic insiders for a blockbuster statement about Ibori’s return to Nigeria, which may already have happened.