London Court postpones Case Against Ibori


James IboriThe assets confiscation hearing of former Delta State Governor James Ibori came to an abrupt end yesterday, as the Judge, Anthony Pitts, granted the crown prosecution’s request to adjourn for retrial.

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The prosecution said it needed time to get more evidence against the former governor after both the prosecution and defence have made their submissions in the hearing.

Judge Pitts said: “I feel that this case inevitably requires decision that is probably based on proper evidence. This matter must proceed in a way to make proper decision. It seems to me to hear some more evidence. I need to be in a much better position more than I am now to make a better position. I am going to adjourn this proceeding till early next year.”

The lead counsel to the former governor, QC Krolic said: “The making of confiscation determinations is governed by different procedural requirement from trial procedures and different standard of proof to be applied.

“When it comes to trial and sentencing, the court is not concerned with numbers.”

But Judge Pitts said: “Number is also considered.”

Explaining to the Judge, Krolic said: “In confiscation, difference in number is important because the issues in confiscation are quantitative.”

Judge Pitts cut in, saying: “I fully agree that we are not bound by the pleas of guilt here….but we are in a different situation.I am being asked by you to ignore his guilty pleas and look again if he is actually guilty, I know you are not saying that, but it really seems so close.”

Krolic cited many authorities to support his case that a guilty plea in Confiscation does not mean that the defendant has the full benefits of the guilt.

He said: “The burden lies on the prosecution to prove to what extent the defendant has benefitted from the offence and in this case, we are relying on the prosecution’s own evidence that is set out in section 73 as provided in their 63,000 pages evidence before this court from the start of these proceedings.”

Krolic, relying on the case of Mcintosh and Rezvi 2010, said: “The court held in paragraph 22 that a plea of guilty did not amount to an admission from which a conclusive inferences can be drawn pursuant to section 10CJA 1967. Where the defendant has pleaded guilty, it is important for the prosecution to prove their case. I have shown you that what the prosecution has put forward in their 63,000 pages trial bundle is not supported by any evidence.”

The lead Crown prosecutor Sasha Wass, who only turned up for the day’s proceedings after the court’s lunch break and briefed by her junior counsel, Esther Schutzer-Weissmann that the Judge was intending to adjourn the case for more evidence to reach a conclusion, said: “Your honour, we will ask that these proceedings are brought to a halt and list it for another hearing so that we may call more witnesses.”

Krolick, not satisfied with the crown prosecution’s request for a halt of the court proceedings for a retrial, urged the Judge to continue to hear the case and give judgment based on the submissions made by both the

Krolick said: “We do not say that the conviction should go, we do not attack the conviction; we are only concerned by what has been obtained by Ibori in connection to the charge. We are not even suggesting that witnesses are required… We are only saying that Ibori did not obtain what he has been accused of obtaining and that the prosecution does not have evidence to link funds from Delta State to him and that the court should make its decision on that basis.”

The court adjourns till Dec 19 for preliminary direction of the confiscation proceeding.

A report quoted Ibori as reacting to the development thus: “After 8 years of criminal investigations, five adjournments and over fifty trips to Nigeria, the prosecution failed to provide any tangible evidence to support their claim that I defrauded Delta State, their case collapsed to such an extent that on the last day of a three weeks hearing, they were humbled into making an application to the judge for permission to start again which he Judge unceremoniously granted.”

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Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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