Former Delta State governor, Mr. James Ibori, on Monday, won a United Kingdom High Court declaration that he was unlawfully detained, with the court awarding a derisory £1 in damages.
Mr. Ibori, who left the United Kingdom on 3 February after completing his prison for sentence for corruption-related crimes. On departure, he launched his claim for damages for false imprisonment and breach of his rights under the 1998 Human Rights. The ex-convict demanded £4,000 in damages for being detained by United Kingdom Home Secretary, Amber Rudd.
But the judge, Mrs. Justice Cheema-Grubb, ruled that the convicted politician is only entitled to a nominal £1 of the sum for the claimed breaches of his human rights.
In her ruling on Monday, Mrs. Cheema Grubb declared that Mr. Ibori was unlawfully held for one day, 18 hours and 10 minutes between December 20 and 21last year, adding that the Home Secretary “failed to have regard to her limits to detain”, following a failure to hold effective confiscation proceedings in respect of a sum of money estimated to be £57million.
“In this case, the secretary of state has been wrong-footed by the failure of the prosecution to achieve determination of its confiscation proceedings against Mr. Ibori prior to his release from prison on license,” the judge ruled.
In rejecting Mr. Ibori’s bid get thousands of pounds in compensatory damages, Mrs. Cheema Grubb ruled: “There is no compensatory loss to Mr. Ibori and I fix nominal damages at £1.”
The former Delta State governor was extradited to the United Kingdom from Dubai for trial in February 2012 and prosecuted with evidence provided by the Metropolitan Police. He subsequently pleaded guilty to 10 serious criminal charges related to stealing of huge sums of public funds during his two terms as Delta State governor.
He was sentenced in April 2012 at Southwark Crown Court to 13-year imprisonment for fraud verging on £50million, and an order for his deportation as a foreign criminal was made in May 2015.
Having been remanded in prison custody in the in the United Arab Emirates, he was due to be granted conditional release from prison on 20 December 2016. However, the United Kingdom Home Office stated that there was no intention to deport Mr. Ibori to Nigeria until he handed over at least £57million “proceeds of crime”.
A Home Office email stated: “We cannot deport Mr. Ibori until the confiscation matter has been resolved.”
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On 21 December 2016, the day after his due release date, Mrs. Justice May of a United Kingdom High Court ordered Ibori to be released on certain conditions. She described the attempts to detain him as “quite extraordinary.”
“You don’t hold someone just because it is convenient to do so and without plans to deport them,” the judge said.
The judge also rejected a Home Office application that Ibori be electronically tagged and made subject to strict curfew conditions after accepting arguments from Mr. Ibori’s lawyers that the Home Secretary was misusing her immigration and deportation powers.
Mr. Ibori, who once worked as a cashier in a London Do It Yourself (DIY) store.
He fled Nigeria but was arrested in Dubai in 2010 and extradited to the United Kingdom. When Ibori arrived Nigeria he was received with fanfare by his people in Delta state.