LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The former governor of a Nigerian oil state pleaded guilty in a UK court on Monday to laundering millions of dollars in a rare case of a Nigerian politician being held to account for the corruption that blights Africa’s most populous nation.
James Ibori is a household name in Nigeria after using his two terms as governor of impoverished oil-producing Delta State, from 1999 to 2007, to amass a fortune and position himself as a power-broker in the ruling People’s Democratic Party.
Appearing at Southwark Crown Court in London on two separate indictments, Ibori pleaded guilty to 10 counts related to money laundering and fraud. He pleaded not guilty to a further 13 counts. Sentencing will take place at a later date and Ibori remains in custody.
Ibori had been expected to face a 12-week trial involving dozens of witnesses, but after he entered his guilty pleas the prosecution said that he had in effect accepted the substance of the case against him and a full trial was no longer necessary.
Nigeria’s own anti-corruption agency had tried to prosecute Ibori at home but its efforts floundered. Instead, he was arrested while on a trip to Dubai in May 2010 at the request of British police and was extradited to Britain almost a year later. (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Louise Ireland)