UK urged to expedite return of convicted Nigerian politician’s stolen assets

UK urged to expedite return of convicted Nigerian politician's stolen assets
James Ibori, former governor of Nigeria's Delta State. Photo: Reuters

British and Nigerian civil society groups have jointly called on the British government to promptly and transparently return confiscated funds belonging to Nigerian politician James Ibori, a convicted fraudster, to .

The coalition of nearly 50 NGOs sent a letter to Britain's home and foreign affairs ministers, emphasizing the need for the funds to benefit ordinary Nigerians.

James Ibori, a former governor of Nigeria's oil-producing Delta State, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud and money laundering in a court in 2012. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, of which he served approximately half before returning to Nigeria.

Despite his conviction, James Ibori remains influential in Nigerian , having had recent meetings with President and maintaining associations with individuals in powerful positions.

The NGOs, including Transparency International and the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, stressed that the confiscated funds should be directed toward projects benefiting the people of Delta State. They also called for the implementation process to be subject to civil society monitoring.

Efforts to confiscate James Ibori's assets by British prosecutors began in 2013 but have faced numerous obstacles and delays in the London courts.

In July, a judge ordered the confiscation of £101.5 million ($123.9 million) from James Ibori, marking one of the largest orders under Britain's Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

James Ibori has since applied for leave to appeal against the order, with the appeal process in its early stages.

The coalition of civil society groups hopes to expedite the return of these confiscated funds to Nigeria, emphasizing the importance of transparent and efficient processes that ultimately benefit the Nigerian people.

By Estelle Shirbon, Editing by Dennis Gyamfi

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