A High court in London has awarded former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, a damage of £1( about N400) over unlawful detention by British Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
Justice Cheema-Grubb agreed that Ibori was unlawfully held for one day, 18 hours and 10 minutes between December 20 and 21 last year.
She also said the Home Secretary “failed to have regard to her limits to detain” as attempts were made to claw back millions from the fraudster.
Ibori who had claimed £4,000 in damages was awarded a nominal £1 of the sum he had claimed.
The judge ruled: “There is no compensatory loss to Mr Ibori and I fix nominal damages at £1.”
Ibori was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment after being found guilty of 10 serious charges in April 2012 at Southwark Crown Court.
Having spent some time in custody in the United Arab Emirates, he was due to be conditionally released from prison on December 20 2016.
But the Home Office disclosed that there was no intention to deport Ibori to Nigeria until he handed over at least £57m “proceeds of crime”.
An email stated: “we cannot deport Mr Ibori until the confiscation matter has been resolved”.
High Court Mrs Justice May on December 2, 2016, the day after his due release date, ordered Ibori to be freed on conditions, describing the attempts to detain as “quite extraordinary”.
The judge noted: “You don’t hold someone just because it is convenient to do so and without plans to deport them.”
The judge rejected a Home Office application that Ibori be electronically tagged and subject to strict curfew conditions, after the judge accepted arguments that the Home Secretary was attempting to abuse her immigration and deportation powers.
Ibori left the UK on February 3 2017, but launched his claim for damages for false imprisonment and breach of his rights under the 1998 Human Rights Act.
Ibori was detained in the context of awaiting the making of an assets confiscation order, and likely subsequent efforts to recoup a sum at least £57m.
The judge ruled:
“In this case, the secretary of state has been wrong-footed by the failure of the prosecution to achieve determination of its confiscation proceedings against Mr Ibori prior to his release from prison on licence”.