The British never had intention of releasing James Onanefe Ibori from their custody. After many adjournments,seven years of garnering evidence and over 50 trips to Nigeria,the British court came to the same conclusion that the Nigerian Attorney General arrived at 7 years ago,there is no sufficient evidence to prosecute Ibori. The plea of guilty on which he was convicted was in total variance with section 10 of the Criminal Justice Act of 1967. Having come to this conclusion,the British government,afraid of the civil remedy Ibori might pursue for his illegal conviction,humiliation and painful rigors of prosecution,decided to hold him still. Though they ruled that there is no sufficient evidence on which to prosecute Ibori after 7 years of investigations,they dishonestly ordered that Ibori be remanded in prison custody pending the outcome of a future fresh investigation.
It is this position that infuriated Hon.Lovette Idisi,the Honourable member representing Ethiope Federal Constituency. James Ibori is from Ethiope and that makes him the constituent of Hon. Idisi. In July, 2016,he moved a motion on the floor of the House and caused a petition to be written by lawyers he engaged to the House Committee on public petitions.
The substance of the prayers in both the petition and motion is expressed thus;
“(A) We ask the Honourable Committee to cause the House Committee on Foreign affairs to revisit the plight of our client by investigating the substance of our petition. We want justice for our client but the British justice system is clearly a poisoned one in this respect. The Intervention of this committee will go a long way to open doors for our client to get respite from his continuous illegal prosecution by a foreign government that is clearly a meddlesomeinterlopper.
(B) If our petition is found to be of merit,we pray that the committee recommends application by the ministry of Foreign Affairs for the immediate freedom and extradition of our client from Britain and their suspicious legal system.”
Both petition and the motion were referred by the House of Representatives for diligent investigation. Though,the details of this is not available to the public,but reliable source informed us that,the petition and motion stirred up a diplomatic altercation between the British High Commission in Nigeria and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The consequence of this is that,the British retraced their step and agreed to release Ibori by aborting fresh investigations into his case.
Today,Chief James Ibori is a freeman and back to his country home in Oghara,Ethiope West Local Government Area. No Nigerian Press outfit ever really investigated how he got his freedom. Nobody ever mentioned Hon.Lovette Idisi or the House of Reps intervention into his case. That may not be important though. But what is important is for us to always appreciate Fellows like Honourable Lovette Idisi. He is not only a model of a Rep any constituent would wish for,but he is a true friend to Ibori. At a time when Ibori’s friends were too ashamed to be publicly related to him,Hon Lovette Idisi rose up and publicly put up a successful campaign to ensure that the freedom of the most important citizen of his constituency is secured. Ibori may have been welcomed back home as a hero but Honourable Idisi is clearly the personal hero of the returnee hero of Oghara.
~~ Fegor Oghene writes from Warri,Delta State.