The Southwark Crown Court received unusual traffic last Wednesday when Ian Winter QC, the counsel to Ibori’s UK lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, filed an urgent motion asking for Mr. Gohil to be tried independently of Ibori’s first wife, Theresa Nkoyo. Mr. Gohil and Theresa, along with Udoamaka Okoronkwo-Onuigbo, are part of the second of Ibori’s extensive money laundering crimes in the UK. That trial, regarding a charge for which Ibori now faces extradition from Dubai, is billed to commence in just a few weeks from now. Apart from the economic and image-related alibis adduced by Gohil for the urgency of his motion, it turned out that the major problem is that Theresa Ibori's solicitors are now 'off the record' because she is now unable to pay her legal bills. This means that, somehow, she has to find new solicitors urgently, because her trial date has now been fixed for June 28, 2010 and there is going to be a mention at Southwark Crown Court 8 next Wednesday, June 2. Theresa will have to explain to the judge what efforts she has made in finding new legal representation. Eager to distance himself from Theresa becoming a liability to him and in order to avoid delay in the start of his trial, Gohil elected to be tried on his own. His lawyers claimed that his health and reputation have been severely damaged due to the impending court hearing and that any further delay could tip him over the edge. However, the judge stated that even if he were sympathetic to Mr. Gohil's application to be tried on his own with regard to the Theresa charges, there was still the third trial involving the V-Mobile scam in November 2010 looming. He therefore denied Mr. Gohil’s application.
The emerging destitution of the former First Lady of Delta State is an irony of sorts as she lived a lavish, larger than life good time in the state while her husband robbed their people blind. She even had an athletics competition, “The Nkoyo Ibori Championships”, named after her. It is hosted at the Oghara Township Stadium annually. Interestingly, the ongoing London case has exposed how Ibori’s cousin, the current Governor of Delta state, Emmanuel Uduaghan and the former commissioner of sports, Solomon Ogba, in the state, connived in the looting of the treasury by awarding bogus sports contracts to his female associates.
The name of Mr. Ogba, who is currently the chairman of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, which organizes the Nkoyo Ibori Championships, featured prominently in the case. Mr. Ogba was found to have opened accounts with HSBC bank in London; he used Christine Ibori-Ibie’s address at the bank as his home address. This was all part of a running track sports contract which Ogba signed off and ultimately, he got his share of the money deposited in his London accounts. Asked in court how she could have lived in London and executed government contracts in Nigeria, Christine had no answer.
Ibori is said to have abandoned his first wife and mother of five girls to her fate in London, even as he made money available to his mistress, Udoamaka Okronkwo, to prosecute her case in court. A family source told Saharareporters that it was an open secret that Ibori encouraged his wife to travel to London knowing that she was wanted, as a means of off-loading her. Their relationship had gone very bad as of the time of her arrest.
In 2008, Ibori reportedly also tricked Udoamaka to travel to the US through France. In France, she was picked up on a European warrant, thereby clearing the way for Ibori to marry a younger lady, Senami Sosu. With Senami, he traveled everywhere until his recent arrest in Dubai.
Prior to marrying Senami, Ibori had fathered his only son with the daughter of a former federal judge, Uju Ononiba, whom he met at the wedding of his pal, Joe Obue even in the presence of Udoamaka his mistress. It was not clear if Uju married Ibori, but family sources said she was well taken care of. He set her up in style in a mansion in a suburb of Washington DC.
Last week at the Southwark Crown Court where the three women associates await their fate in their money laundering case in the hands of a jury, the once arrogant and aggressive Udoamaka, who delighted in putting up elaborate shows on the court premises, had lost her mojo as well as a lot of weight. It was obvious the three-month trial had worn out the defendants. The jury is expected to resume deliberation on Tuesday, June 1, the day before the mention of the trail of Theresa Nkoyo is scheduled to be made.
As per Ibori, the UK metropolitan police are working to file for his extradition within the 30-day window required by UAE/UK extradition treaty. The UK police insisted that they are not working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria regarding Ibori’s extradition, contrary to the persistent misrepresentation being created by the EFCC in the Nigerian media. Nigeria does not even have an extradition treaty with the UAE, making it even more bizarre that the EFCC continues to claim that they are working to extradite Ibori to Nigeria.
A source told Saharareporters that EFCC’s activities around James Ibori in Dubai and Nigeria may well serve the purpose of strengthening Ibori’s claim of political persecution. UK sources in Abuja told Saharareporters that they consider the reported asylum claim by Ibori to be laughable since he faces no danger of political persecution the UK where his case is purely a criminal case. In addition, our sources said, in the UK he has a chance to prove his innocence or otherwise in an open court where his personal safety is not in jeopardy.