x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Court clarifies Ibori extradition ruling

Defence counsel appeal, but date for hearing yet to be set.

James Ibori, right, leaves a Nigerian coutroom last year. A UAE court has approved his extradition to the UK.
James Ibori, right, leaves a Nigerian coutroom last year. A UAE court has approved his extradition to the UK.

DUBAI // The James Ibori extradition tribunal has released new details of its judgment last week ordering that the Nigerian politician be handed over to the British authorities.

Mr Ibori, a former Nigerian Delta state governor, was arrested at the Atlantis hotel in Dubai on May 9 after an Interpol arrest warrant was filed by the Metropolitan Police in London.

Last Sunday, presiding judges Issa Sharif, Mahmood Fahmy and Rashid al Samiri of the Dubai Court of Appeals ordered his extradition. 

The court has said it allowed for Mr Ibori's extradition on the basis that he was wanted for questioning in the UK in association with 25 crimes. 

According to court documents, the British request stated warrants were issued in the UK for money laundering, conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to launder, fraudulently acquiring ownership-transfer documents and conspiracy to forge documents. 

Mr Ibori's defence counsel, Mansoor Lootah and Ali Musabah, of Pan-Globe Advocates and Legal Consultants, argued in court that the extradition order was politically motivated and that UAE extradition law prohibits extradition based on race, religion, citizenship or political views.

Testimonies from witnesses, including an investigator from the Metropolitan Police, stated that Mr Ibori's case was politically motivated.

Lawyers also pointed to the acquittal of Mr Ibori in December 2009 by a Federal Nigerian Court on 170 counts of fraud filed against him by the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The UAE extradition tribunal ruled that the Nigerian charges against Mr Ibori were different from the charges brought against him in the UK.

"Even if the defendant was wanted for one crime that carries a punishment under both UAE and UK law ... this qualifies for an extradition," Mr Sharif is quoted as saying in court documents.

In addition, the court dismissed the testimony of Joan McDonald - a defence witness who claimed the extradition was politically motivated - because of lack of evidence.

Mr Ibori's counsel have appealed the order to the Dubai Court of Cassation, but a hearing date is yet to be set.

amustafa@thenational.ae