x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Nigerian politician extradited from UAE faces UK court

James Ibori, the former governor of the Nigerian state of Delta, appeared in a British court.

James Ibori, Governor of Delta State, Nigeria, is accused in the UK of fraud and money laundering.
James Ibori, Governor of Delta State, Nigeria, is accused in the UK of fraud and money laundering.

LONDON // A senior politician in Nigeria's ruling party appeared in a British court yesterday accused of corruption charges after being extradited from the UAE.

James Ibori, one of Nigeria's richest politicians and the former governor of the oil-producing state of Delta, was arrested almost a year ago in Dubai at the request of the Metropolitan Police in London.

"James Ibori appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court today charged with 25 offences relating to money laundering and fraud," a Metropolitan police spokesman said. Mr Ibori was remanded in custody to appear again on April 28.

Mr Ibori, from Nigeria's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), arrived at Heathrow airport in London on a flight from Abu Dhabi on Friday night, escorted by British extradition warrant officers.

The politician, who recently lost an appeal against his extradition, denies all allegations of corruption and says the accusations against him are political. He was governor of Delta, one of three major oil-producing states in the impoverished Niger Delta, from 1999 to 2007 and continued to act as a powerbroker in the PDP thereafter.

A British court froze $35 million of his assets in 2007 on suspicion they were the proceeds of corruption and he is also wanted for questioning by Nigeria's anti-corruption police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Mr Ibori is one of many former Nigerian state governors to have been charged by the commission in cases seen as a test of the Nigerian government's commitment to tackling corruption. The president, Goodluck Jonathan, who is the front-runner in presidential elections that took place yesterday, has vowed a tougher line on graft, but the cases have made little progress.

Mr Ibori's case was adjourned and the 52-year-old will appear at Southwark Crown Court in London on April 28.