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Published On: Sat, Jan 25th, 2014

Ibori Ruled Out of UK Prison Exchange Programme with Nigeria

Chief James Ibori to serve full jail term in UK prison

LAGOS JANUARY 25TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The British authorities have refuted Nigeria press reports that ex-Governor James Ibori of Delta State will be returned to Nigeria to complete his jail term for money laundering for which he was sentenced in the UK. After a five-year legal ordeal, Ibori was jailed for 13 years in April 2012 by Justice Nicholas Pitts.
Some Nigerians have expressed fears that Ibori could be repatriated from London to Nigeria to complete his jail term following an agreement between Abuja and London for Nigerians currently serving terms there to complete their sentence at home.
Southwark Crown Court had found him guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to make instruments contrary to section 1 (1) (a) of the criminal act of 1977. He is however expected to spend only four and a half years in prison.
But following recent signing of an agreement between the UK and Nigeria on exchange of prisoners, there were unfounded speculations that Ibori might be transferred home.
A source in the UK High Commission said: “We are not planning to allow Ibori be a beneficiary of the exchange policy, it is not targeted at him. Our laws are very strong on money laundering; the exchange programme does not cover such people like Ibori.
“So, he will complete his prison terms in the UK as part of our own contribution to your anti-corruption agenda.
“If he is brought to Nigeria, we are not sure if he would not be pardoned as a result of pressure from some people”
Responding to a question, the source added: “The Nigerian government has not made any request for the repatriation of Ibori home to complete his jail terms.”
A reliable source in government said: “There is no plan to bring Ibori home under any guise and we will not do so. We will be sending a wrong signal if we do so.
“This is an example of consequence of graft in public office; we want others to learn from Ibori’s experience. His conviction has strengthened our anti-corruption campaign.”
When contacted, the Press and Public Affairs Officer, Robert Fitzpatrick, only said: “The terms of agreement between the UK and Nigeria are not about one person, it is a long time agreement.”
The UK Minister of Justice, Mr. Jeremy Wright, and the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), signed the prisoners’ exchange agreement.
Wright, who also met with the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, and the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, said about £1m [about N280m} would be made available by the British government for a “comprehensive reform of Nigerian Prisons.”
2 years ago the revelation that the UK Government was giving millions of pounds to the Jamaican and Nigerian governments in order to improve those countries’ prisons generated outrage in the UK.
For years, British officials have been trying to persuade the Jamaican and Nigerian governments to agree to change the Prisoner Transfer Agreement so that the prisoner’s consent is not required. Both governments have promised that they will enact legislation to bring about the change. Neither has done so. That is hardly surprising: what’s in it for them? Nothing – unless Britain can make it worth their while. Which is why the Coalition is offering to spend several million pounds refitting jails in Nigeria and Jamaica.
“The deal is that if you take back your prisoners, we’ll give you our money”.
It has long been very difficult to get foreign prisoners into jails in their own countries. There needs to be a “Prisoner Transfer Agreement” between Britain and the country we want to send convicted criminals to. UK have such agreements with both Jamaica and Nigeria. The only problem is that it requires the criminal to agree to the transfer. If he does not, then the law says he can’t be moved from Britain. Most Nigerians and Jamaicans sentenced to jail terms here do not want to end up incarcerated in their native countries, whose prisons are usually stinking hell-holes. Their British equivalents are wonders of health and hygiene in comparison.
That’s why the Coalition proposes to hand £3 million a year to Nigeria and Jamaica to “upgrade prison facilities” and “instruct warders on human rights”. Ministers insist this policy will save money in the long run, but its difficult to believe that there is any hope of turning Nigeria’s and Jamaica’s jails into institutions that will satisfy the European Court of Human Rights as decent and humane houses of correction, says a UK writer.
Source: Elombah

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