The London Metropolitan Police met with a dramatic set back on Thursday in the case between it and Chief James Onanefe Ibori’s associate. At the Southwark Court, London, on 21 January 2016, the Director of Public Prosecution in the United Kingdom sensationally applied to the court to drop the case against Mr. Bhadresh Gohil, one of Ibori’s lawyers. Mr. Gohil had maintained his allegations that the London Metropolitan Police Officers investigating Chief Ibori and others were involved in bribery and corruption.
In a public statement, Tony Eluemunor, Chief Ibori’s Media Assistant, said a pin-drop silence enveloped the court as the Crown Prosecutor, Ms Sasha Wass, amplified the Prosecution’s position, saying that the UK authorities were no longer interested in pursuing the attempt to pervert the cause of justice suit they had brought against Mr. Gohil over the allegations. Gohil had maintained his allegation that Metropolitan Police Officers investigating James Ibori and others were involved in bribery and corruption.
Sasha Wass further stunned the court when she said she was not at liberty to disclose the reasons behind the Crown’s decision to drop the case. However, it is on record that in the run up to the hearings, Ms Wass was directly accused by Gohil’s representative, Mr. Stephen Kamlish, of lying to the Court of Appeal and also lying to His Honour Judge Testar at the Southwark Court and disobeying his order for the Crown to disclose evidence in their possession which include the bank statements of Detective Constable John McDonald to the Defence before the start of the trial.
The Prosecution’s dropping of the case on Thursday will have a knock on effect on the confiscation case against Ibori and Gohil scheduled for May as Judge Testar has ordered that materials withheld from Ibori and associates be made available to their legal teams – including the lawyers of Christine Ibori-Ibie and Udoamaka Okoronkwo-Onuigbo. Also, the defence lawyer, Kamlish, informed the Judge that he would ask the Court of Appeal to retry the case afresh, as though it would be handling a totally new case. This means that the earlier convictions may be overturned if such an appeal sails through.
Ibori’s big win during Thursday’s proceedings is that Judge Testar immediately ordered that all the material the prosecution had withheld from the defence be made available to Ibori and all his associates’ legal teams including those of Christine Ibori-Ibie and Udoamaka Okoronkwo-Onuigbo.
Kamlish said their case had been contested on two very simple basis; firstly, that Gohil’s allegations that the Police Officers investigating the Ibori case were corrupt were true, and were central to all the cases already decided, and secondly, that the Prosecution had suppressed critical material in the trials of James Ibori and in the Court of Appeal, and that was the reason why they were about to enter into an abuse of court process argument. Thus, said the lawyer, the Crown’s pleading of no evidence on Thursday shows that the allegations are true.
Based on Prosecutions’ dropping of their case for want of evidence, Gohil has said he would take the case to the Appeal Court. He said in court on Thursday: “I have always maintained my innocence in this matter. I always couldn’t understand how I or anybody could have been convicted based on DC McDonald’s assumptions. Today, I have been vindicated”.