A high court in London has awarded James Ibori, former Delta state governor, a nominal £1 (about N400) as damages over his claim of unlawful detention by Amber Rudd, British home secretary.
Cheema-Grubb, the judge, agreed that between December 20 and 21 last year, Ibori, who spent years in UK jail for money laundering, was unlawfully held for one day, 18 hours and 10 minutes.
She, however, ruled, in a way that mocked Ibori’s claim, that he is only entitled to a nominal £1 of the sum.
Ibori had claimed £4,000 in damages.
She said the home secretary “failed to have regard to her limits to detain” as attempts were made to claw back millions from him.
But in rejecting Ibori’s bid for thousands in compensation, the judge ruled: “There is no compensatory loss to Mr Ibori and I fix nominal damages at £1.”
Ibori was extradited to the UK for trial in February 2012 and prosecuted on the basis of evidence from the metropolitan police.
He pleaded guilty to 10 serious criminal charges over the appropriation of massive amounts of public funds during his two terms as governor.
He was sentenced in April 2012 at Southwark Crown Court to 13 years imprisonment, and an order for his deportation was made in May 2015.
Having spent time in custody in the United Arab Emirates, he was due to be conditionally released from prison on December 20, 2016.
But in a statement on Monday, Tony Eluemunor, media aide of Ibori, said the former Delta governor defeated the British secretary of state for home department in an unlawful detention suit.
He added the court had ordered that his principal be compensated for malicious detention but that the amount had not been fixed.
“Chief James Onanefe Ibori’s winning streak in London courts continued on Monday, May 22, 2017, as he won an important legal victory against the British secretary of state for the home department. The costs the home department will have to pay to him, as ordered by the court, will be determined later,” he said.
“The victory came when Justice Bobbie Cheema-Grubb DBE of royal courts of justice, Strand, London, agreed with the submissions of Ibori’s counsel Ian Macdonald QC and Ivan Krolick that though Ibori was due for release, he was still maliciously detained on the 20th and 21st December 2016.
“On that 21st December 2016, Ibori’s application for urgent consideration against the detention was heard before a high court judge who ordered Ibori’s immediate release.
“That day, the judge also granted Ibori permission to file claims against the secretary of state of British home department, who was required to file detailed grounds of resistance to the claim and ordered that a substantive hearing should be listed by 31st January 2017 unless the defendant issued directions for the claimant’s removal by 4pm on 6th January 2017.
“Ibori was eventually released in the evening of 21st December 2016, after a day and some eighteen hours of immigration detention (albeit held in prison).”
He said Ibori’s solicitors wrote to the home department seeking her acquiescence to his voluntary departure to Nigeria in December, but that it was not granted.
Ibori returned to the country in February to a tumultuous welcome in his country home after spending about five years in jail for fraud.
It was reported that he was deported, but his aide insists he left the UK by his own will.