Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ibori caves-in to plea bargain

There were strong  indications at the  weekend that former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, may have agreed to a plea bargain deal with the London Metropolitan Police (MET). In fact, barring any other last-minute hurdles, the deal may be signed as early as this week.
Sources conversant with the deal told Sunday Vanguard that the signal for the deal was first sighted when the London MET dropped its corruption charges against Ibori. Rather than rejoice over the development, a shocked Ibori was made to understand that the new case against him would dwell on money laundering.
One of the sources said: “Whereas it was decided that the corruption charges were dropped because proving the case was becoming challenging, resorting to money laundering provides an easier case to prosecute because a defendant could be found guilty once a  veritable inference could be made”.
Unconfirmed reports late yesterday suggested that most of the “finer details of the deal had already been agreed upon by both the prosecuting counsel and Ibori’s lawyers”.
Ibori, Sunday Vanguard learnt, having moved from Nigeria to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, UAE, before his extradition to London for trial, was said to “be showing signs of fatigue as the case appeared to have really dealt him a heavy psychological blow as well as punched a hole in his finances”.
Whereas the case was said to have cost the British authorities huge sums of money as a result of the global investigations involved in attempting to prove the case, sources said they were, nonetheless, prepared to convict Ibori on money laundering charges. “It was this new development that compelled Ibori’s lawyers to prevail on him to accept the plea bargain deal.
“Initially, he objected but when confronted with the full implications of going ahead with the case, the resources the British authorities would have to deploy again and the man hours, he faced a more damaging penalty should he be found guilty.  He was also told that since the corruption charges had been dropped, going for a plea bargain on money laundering was less opprobrious,” a source said.
“It was this line of argument from his lawyers that eventually made him to cave-in to the deal”.

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