James Onanefe Ibori, second civilian Governor of Delta State, would be breathing the sweet air of freedom once again as he is billed to leave the London jail, where he has spent the last four years, any moment from now.
This would lay to rest the huge drama that saw the strong man of Delta State politics leaving Nigeria to Dubai in 2010.
In Dubai Ibori was held under house arrest until he was moved to London a year after to begin the process that led to a 13-year jail term, despite pleading guilty to charges of money laundering.
With the discovery that some of the Metropolitan Policemen in London that investigated his case, had themselves been corrupt and the legal team that prosecuted him indicted, authorities are going through the entire process with a searchlight to ensure that his conviction is “safe” and that he had not been unfairly treated.
Family and political associate of Ibori in anticipation of his release, it was gathered, have since taken temporary residence in London await his impending freedom.
Delta State Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro, reports have it, would lead a state delegation to welcome Ibori.
Apart from the official delegation most of Ibori’s political associates in business and politics are reported to have all relocated to London to welcome their leader.
A Southwark Crown court had on April 17, 2012, sentenced Ibori to 13 years in prison after the ex-governor pleaded guilty to 10-count charge of money laundering and stealing $250million from Delta State treasury.
However, it is not made known if Ibori would be heading home immediately after his release today, as his spokesman, Tony Eluemunor, said he would not be returning to Nigeria immediately.
A source said “He (Ibori) is a politician and a big player in Nigerian politics. You don’t expect him to return just like that. He has to play his politics and know when the time is ripe before making his entry for maximum effect.”
It is also not clear if the former governor’s unfinished case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would not get him re-arrested to score high points for anti-graft war especially in this era of seemingly zero tolerance to corruption by the Buhari-led Federal Government in Nigeria.
Whatever awaits Ibori in Nigeria on arrival remains to be seen, however Ibori would not only leave prison today but most likely to dominate the Nigerian public space once again.