Controversies surrounding the extradition of the former Delta State governor, Chief James Ibori to Nigeria might have been laid to rest as the United Kingdom is said to get the upper hand, with the extraditions treaties it has with the United Arab Emirate, UAE,.
A source at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, told THISDAY that with the treaties between the UAE and the UK, it will be difficult for the operatives of the commission, whom he said went to Dubai to get the extradition done, to try Ibori in Nigeria.
An unconfirmed report had it that the embattled governor, who is being accused of money laundering and fraud allegedly perpetrated while in office as the Delta helmsman, would prefer to be tried in Nigeria, rather than Dubai or United Kingdom.
The source said despite the fact that the documents backed with concrete evidence, the operatives of the commission had gone to Dubai in connection with the extradition exercise, the Metropolitan Police would have an upper hand.
All efforts to get EFCC's spokesman, Mr. Femi Babafemi to comment on the issue proved abortive as he did not pick several calls pushed across to him.
Meanwhile, the former Delta governor, who was arrested by the Interpol section of Dubai Police last week is still under the watch of the office of the Public Prosecution pending finalisation of extradition.
As Nigeria has no extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates, it is not yet known if he will be extradited to Nigeria or to Britain to face charges of money laundering.
Dubai Police arrested Ibori upon receiving a Red Notice arrest warrant from Interpol. The Red Notice warrant is issued where persons concerned are wanted by national jurisdictions and Interpol’s role is to assist the national police forces in identifying or locating those persons with a view to their arrest and extradition.
These red notices allow the warrant to be circulated worldwide with the request that the wanted person be arrested with a view to extradition.
Ibori served as the governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007. Media reports in said he owns property in Dubai, but this could not be independently verified.
Contrary to reports of an arraignment before Dubai Courts, Ibori was not seen anywhere near the court.
A source at the Dubai Courts, was quoted as saying that it was not possible for the ex-governor to appear before the court anytime soon.
"Was it not just last week he was arrested? It will take at least three to four weeks before his case can appear before the courts. Yes, there were some 25 Nigerians arraigned today for miscellaneous crimes. This Ibori was not one of them," he was quoted as saying.
On the possibility of fast tracking the Ibori case, he said, "that is not possible in Dubai Courts. Cases are treated on first come first served basis. No case is more 'high profile' than the other. If you recall, there are two former Emirati ministers whose case are still in court — there was no fast tracking there.
"To the best of my knowledge, the Dubai Courts have no jurisdiction over this matter, so I don’t think he will be appearing before it. It just so happened that he was arrested by Dubai Police," he added.
Talks on the extradition exercise between the EFCC and the UK Metropolitan Police have begun in earnest.
Sources at the Dubai Police HQ,were quoted as saying "the Interpol notice didn’t mention he was a former state governor. It just mentioned a Nigerian national by the name of James Ibori was wanted."
The warrant request from the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police declared that the suspect is wanted for money laundering as well as other crimes.
Mr. James Ibori was arrested last Wednesday evening at a five-star hotel and the case was referred to the public prosecution. He was freed on bail till the prosecution receives his extradition file. His passport is held along with the passport of the person who bailed him out,
If extradited, he would become only the second person to be sent to Britain for trial under a 2008 treaty. The only other person extradited to the UK under the treaty was Jeleel Ahmed, who was sent to the UK last August and is currently on trial in Birmingham for murder.