James Ibori

James Ibori: Biography, Education, Family, Career, Net worth, Controversies and More

Biography

James Onanefe Ibori also known as ‘Ogidigboigbo’ was born August 4th, 1959 to the late Chief Ukavbe Ibori and Mrs Comfort Oji in Delta State, Nigeria.

His tribe is Urhobo, an ethnic group in the Niger Delta region. Going by his date of birth, Ibori is 63 years old as at 2022.

He’s a two-term governor of Delta state from 1999-2007 under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He is also a political godfather of the state.

Education

Ibori attended Baptist High School, Oghareki, now Oghareki Grammar School,

He then proceeded to the University of Benin, where he bagged a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Statistics. 

He later moved to London, UK, in the early 1980s.

Career

Ibori returned to Nigeria in 1994 to serve as a consultant to the federal government under the then military head of state, late General Sani Abacha.

His political career started in the early 90s when he was nominated to contest for the Federal House of Representatives seat in 1991 under the umbrella of the National Republican Convention (NRC) to represent Ethiope Federal Constituency.

He lost the election to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate.

Ibori joined the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM) when the Sani Abacha Transition Programme began. 

A sizable number of local, state, and federal seats were won by the GDM, including one of Delta States’ three senatorial seats. 

The transition was immaturely disrupted by the death of General Sanni Abacha.

 Ibori then founded the Delta National Congress(DNC) in Delta State along with other political leaders from the state.

Later, the DNC merged with other parties to form the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)

Ibori clinched the ticket of the party to run for the governorship position of Delta State.

He served a 2 four-year term under the party from 1999-2007.

Ibori then anointed Dr Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan as his successor.

Ibori was also honoured with the traditional title of Ezi-Oyi Anioma; which means the great and highly cherished friend of  the Anioma people, by a delegation led by the chairman of the state Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Obi Dr. Emmanuel Efeizomor 11.

Marriage

In 1980 Ibori married Theresa Ibori before separating in 2003 through a messy divorce. 

Ibori and Theresa have a daughter together – Erhiatake Ibori, a current member of the Delta State house of assembly.

Ibori was reported to later marry another woman – Senami Sosu.

Net worth

James Ibori is known to amass a lot of wealth. Some are still under his control while others have been confiscated as they are traced to being acquired unlawfully.

He is reportedly estimated to be worth $1.5 million. NewsWireNGR however cannot independently verify this claim.

Controversy

Theft at DIY Store

In 1990, Ibori and his wife were arrested for theft from a DIY store where they worked and were fined £300. 

He was later convicted of handling a stolen credit card and fined £100.

Chief Edwin Clark’s petition

After Ibori left office as governor of his state, one of his kinsmen and influential Ijaw chief -Chief E. K. Clark, OFR, CON, filed a petition against him.

The petition later revealed a messy secret of the former governor.

Ibori in the petition was accused of money laundering. The petition was submitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC led by Nuhu Ribadu failed to act on the petition which led to a public outcry.

Acting on the report, the Metropolitan Police raided the offices of a lawyer named Bhadresh Gohil in London. 

Different hard drives containing incrementing evidence against Ibori were retrieved from the raid.

Ibori, Gobil and a co-conspirator – Lambertus De Boer were sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.

Ibori however denied any involvement and accused the UK courts of witch-hunting.

He obtained a false birth certificate and then passport, medically impossible as it was dated a month after his elder sister’s birthdate.

When aspiring for the office of the Governor of Delta State, Ibori had falsified his birth certificate and passport back in London to apply for a mortgage. 

He dubiously swore under the law not to have any previous record of conviction to be elected the Governor in 1999.

The UK authorities’ persistent investigation led to uncovering Ibori’s assets of about $35 million which were frozen.

Nkoyo Ibori, his wife, was arrested in November 2007 for questioning in London but was later released.

The assets remain frozen as there is no justification for how a Governor who earns less than $25,000 could have $35 million in his account. 

Some of the properties seized from Ibori include:

  • A house in Hampstead, North London worth £2.2million.
  • A property in Shaftesbury, Dorset for £311,000.
  • A fleet of armoured Range Rovers valued at £600,000.
  • A £120,000 Bentley Continental GT.
  • A £3.2m mansion in Sandton, near Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • A Mercedes Benz Maybach bought for €407,000 cash and shipped directly to his mansion in South Africa.

EFCC Arrest

In 2007, Ibori was arrested by the EFCC.

The commission charged him with theft of public funds, abuse of office, and money laundering.

The EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, alleged that Ibori tried to bribe him with cash of $15 million, which Ribadu immediately lodged in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In 2009, a federal court in Asaba, Delta State passed a ruling which discharged and acquitted Ibori of all the 170 charges of corruption brought against him by EFCC.

CBN accusation

In 2010, Ibori was accused by the CBN of embezzling a N40 billion loan which he used Delta State as collateral.

Ibori fled to Lagos from Abuja and then to a creek in his hometown where he hired militants to guard him against government security forces.

He refuted these allegations and fled Nigeria in April 2010, which led the EFCC to seek Interpol help to hunt him down.

Ibori was eventually detained in Dubai on May 13th, 2010 as a result of an international arrest warrant that the UK issued and Interpol enforced. 

He was granted bail, but because the UK wanted to extradite him, the United Arab Emirates restricted his movements. He campaigned for political refuge in Dubai and against extradition. However, this was denied, and in 2012 he was finally extradited to the UK.

James Ibori was given a 13-year term for his offences on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, by Southwark Crown Court after being free for five years. His homes, expensive automobiles, and other belongings were seized. 

According to the judge’s decision, he must serve just six and a half years of his eight years in prison. 

Ibori was placed under home arrest after being freed from prison on December 21, 2016, pending the resolution of all outstanding British matters. 

Series of Nigeria’s extradition procedures of Ibori to the UK have been initiated but none have seen the light.

According to the BBC, the UK government did not intend to deport Ibori to Nigeria until he handed over £18m of the “proceeds of crime” he allegedly held.

Ibori, who is believed to have produced his two successors as governor is still seen as a political giant in Delta State. Still very powerful and relevant in the political sphere of the state.

Last year (2021), an image of Delta South Senator, James Manager kneeling before a former governor of the state, James Ibori went viral.

Ibori was recently quoted to confirm his political relevance in a statement when supporting the aspiration of a Senator in his constituency.

According to him; “I am behind and I will support Senator Ighoyota Amori every step on the way, and anybody, anyone conspiring, anybody that thinks that because I am now a former governor they want to conspire to disgrace me, God will disgrace all of them.”

“This is not an issue of money, all mothers should call their children to order, this is my senatorial district, I am a stakeholder in this party (PDP) and I am a stakeholder in Urhobo, this is my place of birth, I am with Senator Amori all the way.”


Disclaimer

The information in this article was curated from online sources. NewsWireNGR or its editorial team cannot independently verify all details.

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