DUBAI’S highest court has ruled that former Delta State governor, Chief James Ibori, can be extradited to the UK to face corruption charges.
He is accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of stealing more than $290 million (£196m) of state funds while in office in the oil-rich state.
British investigators say he channelled much of the money into banks in the UK.
Chief Ibori, who has denied the charges, was detained in May after the intervention of the global police agency Interpol.
A month before he arrived in the Gulf emirate, a group of his supporters attacked police and prevented them from arresting him in his home town.
The Dubai Court of Cassation ruled that there were no grounds to block the extradition.
In 2007, a London court froze UK assets worth $35 million allegedly belonging to him. His annual salary was less than $25,000.
He had already left the UK when his assets were seized.
Chief Ibori, who is a senior figure in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was first arrested in Nigeria in December 2007.
Two years later, a court in Asaba cleared him of 170-count charge of corruption, saying there was no clear evidence to convict, sparking the anger of the EFCC.
Meanwhile, the EFCC, on Monday, applauded the ruling of the Arab Emirates Court of Cassation to extradite Chief Ibori.
The ruling followed a similar decision by the Court of First Instance in Dubai, which ordered Ibori’s extradition to the UK last October.
The commission’s spokesperson, Mr Femi Babafemi, told the Nigerian Tribune: “The ruling today by the appellate court in Dubai only goes to confirm our earlier position issued after the first ruling in October, that justice is universal and applicable anywhere in the world.
“We have been cooperating with authorities in other jurisdictions on this and we will continue to do this until the course of justice is fully served, irrespective of the ignorance and misrepresentation being peddled by mischief makers.”
UK authorities had earlier prosecuted Ibori’s sister, Christine Ibie-Ibori, his alleged mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo (nee Onuigbo) on those charges. Both women are serving jail terms in a UK prison.
Also, Ibori’s wife, Theresa Nkoyo, and his UK-based counsel, Bhadresh, were also convicted.
The UK officials have said they are expecting Ibori to be flown to the UK to face his trial.