For officers of the London Metropolitan Police accused of bribery in the case involving Chief James Ibori, former Delta State governor, it is not victory just yet, going by the launch of fresh investigations into the corruption case by the UK Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
This was disclosed by a lawyer, Lambertus De Boer, on his twitter handle at the weekend.
The officers involved in the case were DC Peter Clark, DC John McDonald, DC Ben Irons, DC Mathew Hurding-Jones, DC David Cocks, DS George Simpson, DI Gary Walters and AFI Paul Gardiner.
Some of them with the National Crime Agency, according to a statement by Tony Eluemunor, Ibori’s media Assistant, on Sunday, “are believed have been served with anti-corruption notices. Surprisingly, they remain on active duty while the investigation continues”.
Defence lawyers will now provide substantial inputs before releasing a report, just as further disclosures now show the legitimacy of the V-Mobile transaction.
Eluemunor noted that “these same officers, who worked for the Department of Foreign Investment and Development (DfID) funded ‘Proceeds of Corruption Unit’ with the MPS were investigated in 2012, after Bhadresh Gohil alerted the authorities of police corruption at the heart of the James Ibori investigation and prosecution.
Substantial material undisclosed by the Met Police has already been uncovered. The police officers and prosecutors appear to have built a totally false case, thereby misleading the Courts.
Unknown to Gohil, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) had independently suspected deep rooted corruption in relation to these officers and conducted a covert surveillance operation, code-named – “Operation Limonium”.
Despite substantial evidence, the MPS allegedly whitewashed its investigations because making such public before Ibori’s trial was concluded could shoot down the conviction of Ibori and his associates.
The whitewash is today a bullet in the armoury of Ibori’s lawyers as they head to the Court of Appeal, where that failure will be pleaded as yet another infraction against the Police.
The case has now been referred to the Commissioner of Police – Sir Bernard Hogan Howe. Hogan-Howe himself was weighed down by a barrage of criticism so voluminous that last September he applied to retire in February 2017.
Even as the MPS has been struggling to contain the damning disclosures by mainstream British media from the BBC to the Times, Guardian, Mail, Telegraph, detailing how it misled the courts in the Ibori and related cases, fresh evidence of corrupt payments and unlawfully activity has recently been discovered in a Crown Prosecution Service/National Crime Agency (CPS/NCA) investigation named “Project Phoenix”. This investigation has been conducted under the direct guidance of the U.K.’s Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions – Alison Saunders to examine the safety of James Ibori’s conviction.
The CPS/NCA prematurely announced that the Ibori conviction remains safe, wrongly assuming the role of the Appeal Court. It is facing a severe embarrassment as the material that remains undisclosed demonstrates the huge failures of the original investigations.
Throughout 2016, the Ibori case was totally stalled and it never advanced an inch. Also, the Ibori case has turned into a poisoned chalice for newly appointed prosecutors who have since February 2016 further delayed the disclosure process denying the various defendants the ability to take their cases to the Court of Appeal. Despite repeated assurances of proper disclosure and yet violating stipulated deadlines, the CPS continues to withhold substantial material, and the appeal process has thus not started. The latest round of disclosure scheduled for October has now been postponed to 19 December 2016. Fortunately for Ibori, the delay will not affect his release date, which is fast approaching.
Mike Schwarz of Bindmans, the UK leading human rights lawyers, who at one time represented Bhadresh Gohil has been appointed to represent Theresa Ibori in the appeal. She has appointed Clare Montgomery QC, one of UK’s highest regarded barristers, in relation to her Appeal.
The UK judicial system is now firmly in the spotlight. Whether it can be trusted to act honourable remains to be seen. These cases highlight the worst possible and illegal conduct of police officers, crown prosecutors and civil servants, and perhaps, never before has a confiscation hearing, or a pending appeal, been so delayed”.