Nigerian fraudster who is refusing to give up his stolen money is let free half way through his sentence

Court frees Nigerian fraudster Home Secretary James Ibori wanted locked up | Daily Mail Online

So where’s the justice? As Sgt Blackman is denied Christmas at home, court frees £50m Nigerian fraudster Home Secretary wanted locked up until he repaid the money

  • James Ibori made £50million but was released without handing back a penny
  • The same day, Sgt Alexander Blackman was told he will spend Christmas in jail
  • It’s despite winning right to appeal murder conviction for killing Taliban fighter
  • Critics described contrast between two men’s cases as a perversion of justice 

Supporters of Marine A reacted with fury yesterday after it emerged that a £50million Nigerian conman had been released from prison on the same day the ex-serviceman was denied bail.

Fraudster James Ibori was let out on Wednesday half way through a 13-year sentence – despite refusing to pay back a penny of the money he stole.

On the same day Royal Marine Alexander Blackman was told he would be spending Christmas in jail after his application for bail was refused. This was despite him winning the right to a new appeal against his murder conviction for killing a Taliban fighter.

Crook: Corrupt James Ibori (right) is met by a friend after his release

Crook: Corrupt James Ibori (right) is met by a friend after his release

Critics described the contrast between the two men’s cases – both heard at London’s Royal Courts of Justice – as a perversion of justice.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd had tried to keep Ibori locked up until he had handed back at least £18million of the proceeds of his crimes. But the High Court ruled this was an abuse of her powers, and ordered Ibori to be freed.

Thriller writer Frederick Forsyth, who campaigns for justice for Sergeant Blackman, said: ‘A brave Marine sergeant who fought for his country is cruelly kept behind bars, away from his family at Christmas, while a Nigerian fraudster who is refusing to give up his stolen money is let free half way through his sentence.

‘This is the sort of thing that makes my blood boil. Is British justice so degenerate that the civil rights of every conman, gangster and career criminal now outweigh those of a law-abiding citizen who made one mistake?’

Sgt Blackman is serving life for shooting a wounded Taliban fighter on the battlefield. He was granted a fresh appeal by officials who concluded there was ‘a real possibility’ his conviction will be quashed, but his application to be allowed home for Christmas pending the appeal was thrown out by the Lord Chief Justice on Wednesday.

On the same day, Ibori was celebrating as a free man after being allowed to thumb his nose at the law. The 57-year-old conman was pictured laughing and smiling with friends as he walked from Huntercombe prison, near Nuffield in Oxfordshire, on Wednesday evening.

He was only half way through his 13-year sentence for fraud and money-laundering. He has refused to give up the money he stole, and still owns a £2million three-bedroom apartment on Abbey Road in St John’s Wood, North London, opposite the recording studio used by the Beatles.

Veteran commando Sgt Blackman’s bid for bail was rejected despite the Appeal Court hearing he had been a ‘model prisoner’ with an ‘exemplary service’ record before the shooting incident.

Last night Conservative MP Peter Bone said: ‘The law is an ass at times, and clearly that is the case here. How can you keep in prison somebody who has served our country and put his life at considerable risk, and at the same time allow a Nigerian fraudster who stole £50million to walk out of prison without getting the money back?

Christmas apart: Alexander Blackman and his wife Claire

Christmas apart: Alexander Blackman and his wife Claire

‘It makes no sense and it’s the sort of thing that drives my constituents completely up the wall.’ Tory MP Philip Hollobone added: ‘If proof were needed that the world’s gone mad, then the contrast between these two cases provides it.

‘There is simply no way this Nigerian should be let out of jail until he coughs up, and I think a Marine who has served his country can be trusted to be with his family for Christmas without running for the hills.’ Ibori was jailed in 2012 after admitting his crimes following a Scotland Yard investigation.

His route to vast wealth began after he left his job as a cashier at a branch of Wickes DIY store in West London to return to Nigeria to enter politics and become one of Africa’s richest men as governor of oil-rich Delta State. He plundered Nigerian public funds to pay for a lavish lifestyle, including two homes in London.

When he became eligible for parole, Home Secretary Mrs Rudd tried to use immigration powers to keep him detained until a confiscation hearing next year. But the High Court rejected Mrs Rudd’s move as ‘quite extraordinary’.

Supporters of Sgt Blackman continued to express anger at his bail being refused. Julian Searle wrote on the campaign’s Facebook page: ‘Rapists, child molesters, burglars and it would seem every other criminal can have bail, but a man who has selflessly served his country cannot.’

The Marine’s appeal is to be heard by the Lord Chief Justice on February 7, the Mail can reveal.

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