As the asset forfeiture case involving Chief James Ibori, continues in London, the British Crown prosecution has denied suggesting that the former governor of Delta State owns 30 per cent of Oando Oil.
Giving evidence yesterday, while under cross examination from QC Krolic, James Ibori’s counsel, detective constable, Peter Clark, stated: “Your honour, Mr. Krolic should use the correct statement used by the prosecution…The crown has carefully chosen their words; it may well not be correct to say that the crown said Mr. Ibori owns 30 per cent of Oando.”
On this, Krolic said: “Your honour, I recall Mr. Bailey, counsel to Oando, asking the prosecution to withdraw what she said about Ibori, owning 30 per cent of Oando. If my learned friend (Wass) Sasha, did not allege that Mr. Ibori has 30 per cent share in Oando, there would have been no need for Oando’s counsel, QC Bailey, to be sitting here in the court.”
The judge, Anthony Pitts, trying to save the situation, said: “The prosecution did not suggest that Mr. Ibori owned 30 per cent of Oando.”
Relying on the sudden turn and retraction from the prosecution and confirmed by the judge, Krolic said: “It appears that there are those that are involved with the media that have concluded that Mr. Ibori had 30 per cent of Oando. If, in fact, my learned friend (referring to the crown prosecutor), Sasha Wass, did not say or mean that, the media should be corrected.”
At the start of the confiscation hearing last week Monday, some media houses in Nigeria, relying on Reuters News Agency’s report, copied and published verbatim the story, which allegedly said Ibori had 30 per cent equity in Oando, which has now been denied by the British Crown prosecution at the ongoing asset confiscation hearing.
In his reaction, Ibori’s solicitor, Jonathan Epelle, said: “It is very unfortunate that the media have been sensationalising this case, which has, in many aspects, since it began on Monday, opened up a lot of hidden facts that have been misrepresented in the public glare.”
After the court returned from the 10 minutes break, following the confusion created as a result of the British Crown Prosecution retraction of statement, linking Ibori to 30 per cent ownership of Oando, the court could not continue with the day’s proceeding and had to adjourn.
Also at the hearing, the British Investigating Officer, DC Clark, was forced to admit that he had been unable to establish any link between funds, originating from Delta State accounts into any account owned by Ibori or any of his associates.
It will be recalled that DC Peter Clark, the British police financial investigator in this case, admitted, under cross-examination, that the prosecution used Mr. Gohil’s forged documents, ledgers and backdated letters to prosecute Ibori.
Also in the week, while giving his testimony in court, Nigeria’s former Chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, had said that the EFCC, under him, was unable to provide documented evidence that can be presented to the court directly linking Ibori to the alleged $15M bribe.