x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Britain praises UAE's help in jailing embezzler Ibori

Nigerian governor who stole Dh1bn from his people was extradited from Dubai.

DUBAI // The sentencing of a Nigerian governor who embezzled Dh1.1 billion from his people was made possible by UAE-UK cooperation, a senior British official has said.

The arrest, extradition and subsequent conviction of James Onanefe Ibori would not have happened without the UAE's "crucial assistance", said Alun Milford, the head of organised crime at Her Majesty's crown prosecution services.

"The Emiratis have put themselves out for us and we sincerely appreciate that in terms of helping us convict him," he added.

Ibori was the governor of the oil-rich Delta State in Nigeria. He was convicted on April 17 and sentenced to 13 years in prison after confessing to the charges. He had been arrested at the Atlantis, The Palm hotel in Dubai on May 9, 2010, days after arriving in the Emirates.

An Interpol request filed by the London Metropolitan Police asked for his detention and extradition to the UK on suspicion of fraud.

A senior diplomatic source in London said the Metropolitan Police applied for Ibori's extradition from the UAE, rather than from Nigeria, because the UK has an extradition treaty with the Emirates but not with the African nation.

"This is a man who plundered the state of millions and used his wife, mistress and aides to attain the money," said Mr Milford.

"The proceeds From crime unit at the crown prosecution services have already started the process to sell all his assets in the UK and, through arrangements abroad, to repay the money back to Nigeria."

Last Wednesday, a London court fixed a June 2013 date for an asset confiscation hearing.

Mr Milford said the UAE and UK are cementing their relationship of judicial assistance with workshops on legal procedures.

"What is clear is that we have very different legal traditions," he said. "Therefore, we are here learning about each other's legal systems and exchanging ideas and ways to expand our cooperation."

According to Mr Milford, more than 100 cases of legal assistance have been registered between the UAE and the UK.

"Over 90 per cent of the requests came from Britain and we have been able to extradite many people to and from the UAE," he said.

amustafa@thenational.ae