A former Nigerian governor convicted of corruption, who was recently
released from a U.K. prison, has hinted that he could return to
politics in the West African country.
James Ibori, the governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta state from 1999
to 2007, was arrested in Dubai in 2010 after avoiding capture in
Nigeria. He was extradited to the U.K., where he pled guilty in 2012
to 10 counts of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering totalling
around £50 million ($77 million at the time).
He was released in December 2016 having served half of his 13-year
sentence, including pre-trial detention. Ibori is currently appealing
against his conviction on the basis of allegations that a British
police officer took bribes for information on his case.
Ibori’s conviction currently bars him from running for political
office for 10 years, but this would be nullified if his conviction was
Speaking outside a London courthouse Tuesday, Ibori told Reuters that
in African politics, “you are in it until you die.”
“I am a politician, I will always be a politician. I play the politics
in my party and in my country for the good of my people,” said Ibori,
Ibori governed for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), currently in
opposition in Nigeria, and remains hugely popular in the country’s
south. Following his release, a YouTube video showed Ibori being
welcomed with cheers by supporters that included a sitting senator
from Delta state.
The Delta state government, which is administered by the PDP, welcomed
Ibori’s release, with state information commissioner Patrick Ukah
describing him as “our son, our brother” and “somebody that everybody
loved,” according to the Nigerian daily Punch.
During his time as governor, Ibori built up an impressive portfolio of
foreign properties and luxury cars, including a £2.2 million ($2.8
million) London mansion and a Bentley worth £120,000 ($150,000),
according to the BBC.
Since Ibori has been in prison, Nigeria’s federal government has
changed hands from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress, after APC
candidate Muhammadu Buhari defeated former PDP incumbent Goodluck
Jonathan in the 2015 election. Buhari has made tackling corruption a
cornerstone of his administration, but has so far failed to secure any
high-profile convictions, although several trials are on going. Ibori
was also linked to four offshore companies in the Panama Papers Leak.
OngoingIbori was also linked to four offshore companies in the Panama