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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Nigeria official's $35m refrozen
James Ibori former Delta state governor
Mr Ibori's assets are said to include a jet and London property
The London High Court has ordered the refreezing of former Nigerian governor James Ibori's $35m (17m) assets that police think are the proceeds of crime.

The assets, believed to include a Bombardier private jet, were the subject of a restraint order in August.

It was lifted last week thanks in part to a letter from Nigeria's attorney general saying Mr Ibori had not been "charged, tried or convicted".

But now Mr Ibori cannot use his assets while the police make their case.

He is one of several former Nigerian state governors who remain wanted for questioning in London on money-laundering charges.


It was in August this year that London's Metropolitan Police Service first obtained a freeze on the former Delta State governor's worldwide assets under Britain's Proceeds of Crime Act.

Money next to a keyboard

The $35m is said to include a Bombardier private jet and property in London as well as money in bank accounts.

The law permits police in Britain to apply for suspect monies to be frozen in the pre-trial stage of a criminal investigation.

Mr Ibori's London-based lawyers, Speechly Bircham, obtained a letter from Nigerian Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa stating that Mr Ibori had been investigated but not charged, tried or convicted in Nigeria "relating to money laundering or any other offences".

This helped persuade Judge Goymer of Southwark Crown Court that there was insufficient proof the assets were the proceeds of crime and he vacated the August order last week.

But the Met told the BBC News website that they have been granted leave to appeal against Judge Goymer's ruling.

"Leave to appeal the discharge was granted at the High Court on Monday 8 October, and pending a full appeal by the Crown the Application of Restraint has been reinstated," a Met spokesman said.

No date has been set for that appeal hearing, so in effect there is no time limit imposed on the police who confirm that the investigation by their Police Proceeds of Corruption Unit into Mr Ibori's affairs continues.

Nigeria's war on corruption

A series of recent setbacks into corruption investigations have led several commentators to question newly elected Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's commitment to tackling grand corruption as well as the actions and motives of his attorney general.

Another former governor wanted for questioning in London is Joshua Dariye of Plateau State.

In May this year the Nigerian government obtained a judgement granting them the $850,000 proceeds from the sale of a London property he owned, and in June they also obtained a judgement in their favour of the $5.7m (including accumulated interest) seized from Mr Dariye's UK bank accounts.

Observers say that Nigeria still has to overcome a culture in which political office is seen as bringing huge rewards and where political allegiances matter more than honour or honesty.

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