Bhadresh Gohil a partner at Arlington Sharma Solicitors and James Ibori’s lawyer was yesterday sentenced to 7 years in prison in a packed Southwark Crown Court. He was described by the judge as the “architect” and the predicate offender in a thoroughly dishonest scheme which had been devised simply to divert resources of Nigerian state funds into the pockets of others from the sale of ‘V Mobile’ shares, the third largest wireless network in operation in the whole of the African continent now known as “Airtel.” Gohil went to extra ordinary lengths to carry out the fraud with no regard for his professional duties.
In 2005 whilst James Ibori was the Governor, the Delta State owned 18% of the shares in V Mobile and The Akwa Ibom state owned 10% with Obong Victor Attah in power. Both were on the board of V Mobile and privy to all the dealings. So in June 2005, when a sale of the company was considered there were already offers on the table from major international operators such as Vodaphone, Virgin, Celtel and Econet amongst others. By late 2005 the market had been fully tested and although there was no requirement for any additional advice and due to the greed of our leaders, both James Ibori and Victor Attah together decided to plunder the asset and divert funds to their own coffers.
Other Nigerian officials accused in the scam are currently at large. They include Mr. Ibori, former Governor of Delta state, Victor Obong Attah of Akwa Ibom, David Edevbie, a former Principal Secretary to Umaru Yar'Adua, Love Ojakovo, a former commissioner of finance to Ibori and Henry Imashekka, a business associate of Ibori.