Nigeria ex-governor extradited to UK from Dubai

Nigeria ex-governor extradited to UK from Dubai

James Ibori's extradition comes just hours before tens of millions of Nigerians vote in today's presidential election. Nigerian authorities said the process was delayed after the former governor of Nigeria's oil-rich Delta state claimed he was a victim of political persecution.

Ibori was a major campaign contributor to the late president whose successor is now running for the office himself. A spokesman for Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission called the arrest "a warning to others who do everything to slow down the wheel of criminal prosecution in Nigeria."

Femi Babafemi said Ibori fled to Dubai after a warrant for his arrest was issued in Nigeria. He was detained in Dubai in May on an Interpol warrant, but it is unclear how long he remained in police detention there. Dubai's highest court ordered Ibori's U.K. extradition in December.

Police said Friday that Ibori has been charged with 25 money laundering and fraud offenses. He was flown to Heathrow with a police escort and is now in custody in west London. Ibori is due to appear at London's City of Westminster Magistrates' Court today.

Nigeria's anti-graft investigators had arrested Ibori in 2007, but the cases against him foundered as his political power grew. Ibori contributed his wealth toward the 2007 election of late President Umaru Yar'Adua and later served as a trusted confidant to the ill leader who died while in office last year.

Yar'Adua's vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, became president and is now seeking his own term in office in Saturday's election.

Diplomatic cables released in February by the WikiLeaks website showed that the Yar'Adua government had sought to stymie an investigation into Ibori, who has been accused of stealing $292 million in state funds by Nigeria's antigraft body.