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Former Governor Of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori has been sentenced to thirteen years in jail for money laundering activities.

Judge Anthony Pitts of the South Wark Crown Court in London sentenced James Ibori to 13 years in prison for money laundering.

The Judge had said ” I recognize that there is another side to the man James ibori but I am not the proper person to judge your achievements and failings as a governor, that is up to the people of delta state”

Judge Pitts in addressing Ibori said: “None of the sentencing guidelines even get close to the amounts in your case”

Ibori looked forlorn and lost during the court hearing

The Judge had said if he had contested the case, James Ibori would be looking at getting 24 years but will get a discount for pleading guilty. He then sentenced the former Governor to 13 years in prison.

The Judge deducted 645 days already spent in jail and said Ibori would serve the rest in British jail. That means Mr. Ibori will be in prison for at least 7 years.

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Former Governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori, was this afternoon sentenced to 13 years in jail over money laundering charges by Judge Pitts of Southwark Crown Court, London.

Delivering the judgment, Judge Pitts declared that James Ibori was due to get 24 years jail term but got the years discounted for pleading guilty immediately.

Details later

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Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has lost her bid to lead the World Bank. As expected, American nominee Jim Yong Kim won, and has been named the next President of the Bretton Woods institution. Mr. Kim was nominated by United States President Barak Obama last month to replace Robert Zoellick, who has held the position since 2007.

Earlier in the day,Iweala surprisingly admitted she did not really expect to be named to the coveted position. She told journalists, “You know this thing is not really being decided on merit…It is voting with political weight and shares, and therefore the United States will get it.”

Her defeatist remarks belied the tremendous energy she had put into returning to the bank as overall boss, but she tried to put a happy spin on it. “We have won a big victory,” she said. “Who gets to run the World Bank – we have shown we can contest this thing and Africa can produce people capable of running the entire architecture.”

With the distraction of the World Bank presidency contest now out of the way, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala returns to Abuja as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, a position where, many Nigerians feel, she needs to earn her credibility by snatching the economy from the ruling People’s Democratic Party, which is known to have ruined the entire architecture.

Additional Reports From Sahara Reporters

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As the sentencing phase of the trial of former Governor James Ibori commenced today at the Southwark Crown Court in London, the prosecution gave rich details of Mr. Ibori’s expertise as a criminal embezzler.

At this morning’s session – a prelude to the former governor’s formal sentencing tomorrow – the prosecution laid bare the methods Mr. Ibori used to defraud the treasury of Delta State of £50 million.

Today’s proceedings were preceded by a rancorous, disruptive crowd hired by the Delta State government to appear in court as supporters of the former governor. The presiding judge ordered the disruptive crowd out of the court.

According to lead prosecutor Sasha Wass, Mr. Ibori “lived and behaved like a millionaire.” She detailed how the former governor started off as a petty thief who dipped hands in the till of his employers. She told the court that the man who was once unable to afford his monthly mortgage payments “went on to live the lifestyle of a property tycoon, living like royalty.”

In February, Mr. Ibori pleaded guilty to several counts of money laundering and fraud. The prosecution said today that this admission established that the whole case against Mr. Ibori was solid and proven, pointing to the greed with which the convict enriched himself by stealing from the people of Delta.

Ms. Wass said that James Ibori had always planned to defraud Delta State during his time as governor, and had made preparations for it in the years before taking office. Mr. Ibori had acquired a new passport with a new date of birth in order to disguise two previous convictions for theft and fraud in the UK. She disclosed that he soon bought a house, the first in a property portfolio that by the time he stepped down as governor was valued at nearly £7 million.

This portfolio consisted of three houses in the UK: two in London and one in Dorset near the expensive private school where his three children were enrolled. In addition, the former governor purchased real estate in South Africa and Houston, Texas. Judge Anthony Pitts was shown a picture from an estate agent’s brochure of the South African mansion Ibori bought for £3 million.

“It says on the details it’s ‘simply sensational.’ I’m inclined to agree with them,” Judge Pitts said.

The court also heard how, by 2007, Mr. Ibori had spent £170,000 on motorcars, school fees of £143,000, and £920,000 on an American Express “centurion” card, the credit card company’s card for the incredibly wealthy. The court also heard how Mr. Ibori bought a £120,000 Mercedes Maybach, “the German equivalent of a Rolls Royce” for his South African mansion. The judge also heard that Mr. Ibori was in the process of buying a £20 million challenger jet while being investigated by the UK police.

In addition, the prosecution outlined how Ibori’s relatives and his mistress aided him in siphoning off money from the Delta State treasury into accounts in their names, and then into buying property in the UK, South Africa and the US. Ms. Wass detailed the former governor’s clever ploy of using different solicitors to buy several properties, using a different one each time in order to disguise his involvement and throw off suspicions of money laundering.

The court heard that former Governor Victor Attah of Akwa Ibom State finally introduced Ibori to Badrash Gohil, a lawyer who “specialized in money laundering,” according to Ms Wass. She added that Mr. Gohil helped the former governor of Delta State to set up Swiss bank accounts and trusts in the tax havens of the Seychelles as well as the Channel islands in order to hide his thieving.

The UK prosecutor revealed details of huge deposits that the former governor held in a variety of bank accounts that were never disclosed on official asset declarations in Nigeria as required by the Nigerian constitution. Among the deposits were €20 million in a trust fund called Zircon in the Channel island of Guernsey, and £1 million in another trust called Onyx. In addition, Mr. Ibori had six accounts with Barclays Bank in London with more than a million pounds in total. He also had an account in Colorado in the US as well as the use of Mr. Gohil’s client account.

According to the prosecutor, when UK police searched Mr. Gohil’s office, they found a secret compartment behind a fireplace that held two external hard drives and information that was “very incriminating.” Mr. Gohil, who was convicted last year and sentenced to 10 years in jail, had played a key role in what the police dubbed “the V-Mobile fraud.” The prosecutor is expected to outline the details of that fraud before the court this afternoon.

Ms. Wass will continue to address the court about Mr. Ibori’s extensive criminal activities and abuse of office.

Source: Sahara Reporters

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After seven years of being unmarried couples, Hollywood super stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have just got engaged. Pitt’s manager confirmed the news on Friday, after Jolie had been photographed wearing a large diamond ring on her engagement finger.

Jolie, Pitt and their son Pax attended a private viewing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wednesday, and the Oscar-winning actress was wearing the large, rectangular diamond ring on her left hand.

Cynthia Pett-Dante said that there is not a wedding date “at this time.” She also said that the engagement “is a promise for the future.”

Pitt and Jolie have been a couple since 2005, and are raising six children – three adopted and three biological – together, but they have never married.

Ms Pett-Dante also said that “their kids are very happy.”

A spokesman for jeweller Robert Procop said: “I can confirm that, yes, Robert Procop did indeed design an engagement ring for Angelina Jolie, designed in collaboration with Brad Pitt.”

Pitt was previously married to Jennifer Aniston from 2000 to 2005, while Jolie has been married to Jonny Lee Miller from 1996-1999 and Billy Bob Thornton from 2000-2003.

The couple, who met on the set of Mr and Mrs Smith in 2005, are reportedly in discussions to once again work together. Jolie is being eyed by Ridley Scott for the lead female part in thriller ‘The Counselor’, written by Cormac McCarthy. Pitt is also reportedly lined up for a role in the film.

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The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), says it will now embark on sustained strikes on all pipelines and facilities remotely related to the Nigerian oil industry, and on MTN South Africa infrastructure in the Niger Delta region in response to the conduct of President Jacob Zuma in the continued incarceration of Henry Okah in that country.

In a statement signed by Jomo Gbomo, MEND, which yesterday said it had attacked and destroyed one manifold and one wellhead on a trunk line operated by Agip Oil Company in Bayelsa State, said that on this new policy, there will be no pause in its assault.

The Movement also took the opportunity to dismiss the performance of the government. “President Goodluck Jonathan has mismanaged the goodwill demonstrated by M.E.N.D. by misrepresenting himself and his band of charlatans as the reason for the relative calm experienced in the Niger Delta,” the statement said. “We have never had any respect for Jonathan and today, most Nigerians understand why.”

Recalling the unconditional offer of amnesty by the late president Umaru Yar’ Adua, MEND said it was intended to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue aimed at addressing the demands of the people of the Niger Delta.

“A Jonathan presidency and amnesty for militants were not a part of our demands and therefore will never be a solution to armed agitation for justice in the Niger Delta,” it said, noting that up till now, “not one of the demands put forward to the Yar Adua government has been met; neither has the Nigerian government initiated dialogue aimed at addressing any” of MEND’s demands.

With reference to its intended attacks on MTN-related infrastructure, MEND said it will shortly issue a set of guidelines to MTN employees, customers, and owners of properties accommodating MTN related communication equipment in order to minimise civilian casualties and forestall unnecessary destruction of privately owned properties.

Dismissing a “misinformed” editorial published by the Nation newspaper on February 12 concerning the Henry Okay trial in South Africa, MEND argued that the newspaper affirmed its confidence in the South African government and justice system, and wondered how the newspaper, in view of a previous story it had published, could turn around and declare the continued detention of a Nigerian citizen for almost 19 months without trial or proof to be a just action.

“The Nigerian media industry is at its lowest point with unscrupulous journalists, editors and publishers on the payroll of Goodluck Jonathan,” it asserted. “The Nation newspaper appears to lean towards this direction.”

According to MEND, what is happening in South Africa is a travesty of justice which must be condemned by all. “What country on earth besides Nigeria will so easily surrender its right to try someone it accuses of masterminding a bombing on its national day? Why does the South African government seek the extradition of Shrien Dewani from England for a murder committed in South Africa?

MEND further stated that the South African government is simply being used by the Nigerian government to hold Okah in prison for as long as it possibly can, and had also knowingly provided fabricated evidence to ensure Okah was denied bail in 2010.

In the Niger Delta, MEND said the Jonathan administration has used the dubious “amnesty programme” as a guise to line the pockets of Goodluck Jonathan, his wife Patience, Jonathan’s cronies and members of the amnesty committee whose sudden wealth remains unchallenged by the Nigerian media. “Fighters in the delta do not possess relevant high school qualifications,” the statement said. “Those being sent abroad are relatives and friends of Jonathan, amnesty committee members etc.”

Of its promised assault, it said MEND will once and for all “expose Goodluck Jonathan and his band of so called ex-militants and shameless Ijaw elders for the frauds they are.”

Source: Sahara Reporters

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The chances of Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the race for the World Bank presidential race appeared brighter yesterday following reports that former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo is set to withdraw for her.

Ocampo’s withdrawal is a product of an agreement among emerging and developing countries to coalesce around one nominee, three sources said.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, would remain as the sole candidate from developing nations in a race against U.S. nominee Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American health expert, who is seen as the favourite to win the race.

A straw poll among World Bank directors, representing the Group of 11, which includes emerging countries and Australia, backed Okonjo-Iweala, the sources said.

Emerging market nations are seeking to challenge U.S. leadership at the bank to increase their influence in global economic institutions long controlled by rich nations.

While Kim is still the favourite to win the World Bank presidency because of his backing from the United States and European countries, a rigorous challenge from emerging market countries could put them in a stronger position to extract concessions favourable to their interests and also increase their odds of winning senior jobs in the future.

Earlier, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said that the BRICS group of emerging market countries were to a joint decision on who to support for the World Bank top post as soon as last night.

Mantega told reporters that the five countries were still discussing which candidate they would support. The BRICS group also includes Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Ocampo, who met with Mantega on Thursday, said developing nations wanted a single candidate to challenge Kim.

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Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State yesterday condemned Thursday’s traffic jam in Lagos metropolis caused by security operatives who mounted roadblocks in different areas during the visit of the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.

The traffic jam, which lasted several hours, grounded business activities across the metropolis, especially on Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, Ahmadu Bello Way (both in Victoria Island), Alfred Rewane Road, Awolowo Road (both in Ikoyi), Catholic Mission Street, Igbosere Road and Simpson Street.Thousands of commuters were forced to walk long distances.

Governor Fashola, speaking at a retreat organised for members of the State Executive Council and Body of Permanent Secretaries in Lagos said: “Lagosians were terribly discomfitured yesterday (Thursday) with the traffic jam, needlessly, if I must say. There is the need for public officers generally to be more sensitive to the people we serve.

“It is particularly worrisome because this is not an elected person and I think we all, including the security agencies, must know how they pander to our high officers, especially VIP movement, at the risk and expense of citizens and taxpayers whose money was used to fuel all the vehicles that we used to block the roads against those who pay those money.

“It is an issue that calls for greater sensitivity to the comfort of our citizenry. Yes, I understand the need to protect the VIPs, but it must be done in a way that it doesn’t impoverish.

“It should not get to the level that we shut down the roads in the state because the VIP wants to pass. If they let us know earlier because going through these roads without shutting them down, traffic can be managed. Nigerians respect their leaders elected or not elected and they will very sensibly and gladly yield to them to go and do their business. But I don’t think they deserve to be kept on the roads, standstill for five hours.”

On the performance of the year 2012 budget, the governor said it recorded 65 per cent performance in the first quarter which was an improvement on the 52 per cent in the corresponding period in 2011.

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The last is yet to be heard of the rift between the founders of Mo’Hits Records, D’Banj and Don Jazzy. Punch Newspaper obtained confidential email correspondences between the former friends and business associates, which revealed deep bitterness.

Don Jazzy’s email to D’banj
D’banj must pay all the debts of Mo’Hits – Don Jazzy
In regards to D’banj’s claim for 100 percent ownership of all songs recorded under the Mo’Hits imprint, the acclaimed producer in an email on March 17th, states.

“That Mo’Hits Records does not already own 100 per cent of the songs. Note that Mo’Hits Records only owns 60 per cent of the songs and 40 per cent belongs to the individual artiste. So, 40 per cent of the songs is not mine to give.” He continues, “That me (I am) giving him (D’banj) my share of the catalogue does not and will never include him having the right to stop them (the artistes) from performing the songs or give him the right to claim any monies for live performances of these songs. And any loans or debt owed by Mo’Hits records as at today will be cleared by Mr D’banj as I am clearly not aware of any.”

Don Jazzy states further that the catalogues he is releasing to his former partner only consists of songs already released in an album exempting new singles and unreleased materials. “So, songs like Wande Coal’s Go Low and Been Long You Saw Me are not part of this catalogue he is receiving. Also, an artiste like D’Prince, not only has he not released any album, he has not signed any contract whatsoever with Mo’Hits Records. That he has no right to claim any monies for deals that have been brokered already as at today with the catalogues or stop their usage. It is important to note that any unreleased songs done by any artiste (including D’banj and K-Switch) MUST NOT be released and is not part of the catalogue I am giving away.”
He adds, “With these few points, I do hope that you all realise that I have been generous enough to facilitate the End of the “D’banj & Don Jazzy” era as a team. After this new deal has been signed and sealed, I do NOT look forward to seeing an email whatsoever or hearing from the DKM (D’banj, K-Switch, Mo’Hits) crew, and all is well again.”

D’banj’s email to Don Jazzy
Will you return the Bentley I bought for you? – D’banj
Same day, D’banj responded to the email, stating,

“In case he (Don Jazzy) forgot, this is the arrangement! 50/50—–song writer/ production, which means for a song X for artiste Y, 75 per cent as per production is fully owned by Mo’Hits and writing is shared 25/25 with the individual artiste co- writing. So, that’s the deal! So him (sic) saying 40 per cent is not his to give away is more like 75per me and 25per each artiste.”
He then asks, “What do you mean by any bills or loans would be cleared by Mr. D’banj? That will never happen because when I ran the company, I ran it perfectly and well. So, if I give him my shares he is left with 100 per cent liability. My catalogue is everything that has been done with the Mo’Hits system and under the normal agreement we have, that means everything I have recorded or that has been recorded whether new or old, or even classic, whether beat with concept or even idea without beats, anything we did as a team and sponsored by me throughout, then, it is mine. Including K-switch clause and all mine and even Wande’s singles and all till the date of signing even today.”

Continuing, D’banj writes, “And now, (I) wanna clear the air on this Samsung deal! I would expect by now that you understand that me keeping quiet is being GENEROUS because this is a deal structured under Mo’Hits Records, (and it is) the first deal and income you would ever bring into the company in eight years. We shared the first 150k (One hundred and fifty thousand dollars) the right way, 1/3 down and that was cool. But after you collected another 130k and did not say anything (that) is and could be described as theft! I only refused to contact them (Samsung) directly because of your reputation. But please don’t call me a fool and let’s know who is generous!” D’banj was not coy about his anger. He states that after sharing over N1bn with Don Jazzy in their Mo’Hits days, he was shocked that the producer would now sideline him when he got the balance from Samsung.’’

D’banj writes further, “Please, please, will he (Don Jazzy) return the Bentley because I bought it for him and it was N5.2m more than mine? And Prince that he claims has no signed contract but is actively involved and signed via engagement– I win his catalogue too – all recorded whether released now or not! This is because no one questioned me when I bought D’Prince N11m naira car (LR3/Range) without releasing any album just to boost the image of the boy and it worked for him! So, let’s get the facts straight, I AM BEING MORE THAN GENEROUS.”

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The National Union of Non Academic Staff of Universities and Allied Institution (NASU), National Examinations Council (NECO) chapter on Thursday threatened to forcefully eject the Registrar of the council, Promise Okpala from his office next Monday if the ministry of education does not announce his re-appointment.

In a statement made available to news men in Minna, Niger state, the Chairman of the union in the Council, Lawal Rabana said since the expiration of the tenure of the Registrar on April 9, there had not been any official pronouncement from the ministry of education, a situation that is creating tension in the institution.

The statement added that since no pronouncement had been made regarding his re-appointment and the fact that the registrar had not added any value to the council in the last five years, he should please stay out of office because he had loss the confidence of the workers.

“Professor Promise Okpala has not added any value to NECO and Nigerian children need someone without credibility question to shape their future, we urge the honourable minister of education to get more involved in NECO’s affairs in order to re-channel it towards the aspirations of its founding fathers’’ the statement concluded.

There has been a lingering dispute between the staff at NECO and the Registrar over the rights of the workers to join a trade union. Mr Okpala has rejected the unionisation move of the NECO staff.

The disagreement had lingered since 2005 in the matter of trade dispute Number IAP/HB/3744 between Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU) and three other examination bodies – Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), National Examinations Council (NECO) and National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB).

The dispute was referred to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) by Hassan Muhammed Lawal the then Minister of Labour and Productivity on 15 August, 2005.

In the ruling signed by three arbitrators – Rufus O. Orugho, Aureol D. Vianana and Lawal Yusuf – the panel said: “One of the main purposes of a trade union is to defend the rights of its members wherever it appears to it that the rights of such members are being transgressed upon.”

It then declared, “The tribunal, having carefully considered all the evidences before it and the applicable laws and having regard to the principles of equity, make the following awards: An order compelling NECO, JAMB and NABTEB to allow NASU unfettered right to unionize the workers of their establishments throughout the federation and an order of perpetual injunction restraining NECO, JAMB and NABTEB from intimidating, threatening or victimizing any of their workers in any manner whatsoever on the grounds that such workers(s) decide to participate or actually participated in trade union activities with NASU”.

While JAMB has actually unionized its staff, NECO is not only adamant but also said to be intimidating its staff on the matter.

Within the past three months when the case was reopened by the NECO staff, 24 members of staff, seen to be championing unionization in the body, have been transferred.