British Nigerians ‘unhappy’

15 02 2010

Mr Baldry may have cost the Conservatives the ‘Nigerian’ vote it seems.  Wonder how Mr Cameron will fix that.  From courting the ‘Muslim’ vote with that “Britain who needs to integrate” speech to the recent holding his ankle approach to entice the ‘Gay’ vote with him waving through “Gay asylum seekers”, I’m sure whatever it is, us Britons will get it in the neck.

Tory MP accused over links to Nigerian politician

By David Connett and Michael Gillard, Independent, Sunday, 14 February 2010

Tony Baldry’s lobbying on behalf of a former state governor accused of plundering public funds has infuriated British Nigerians.

A Tory MP is embroiled in controversy after allegations that he “lobbied” on behalf of a Nigerian politician accused of plundering millions of pounds of state funds. Tony Baldry, MP for Banbury, wrote to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, expressing concern at the investigation into James Ibori and warning it could damage British business interests in Nigeria. It is believed he also criticised a freezing order on Mr Ibori’s assets. The letter was copied to the Attorney General’s office, the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office.

The letter is understood to refer to an investigation by Scotland Yard detectives which concluded that police believed Mr Ibori, the former governor of the oil-rich Delta state, had siphoned off state funds and laundered cash through British banks which he used to buy a private jet, a £4m house in London, a second home in Dorset and expensive cars.

Mr Baldry’s letter has angered Nigerian groups in the UK. Kayode Ogundamisi of the Nigerian Liberty Foundation said the British MP’s involvement was “completely unacceptable” and amounted to “political lobbying”. “The interests of the Nigerian and British public in the prosecution of this case cannot be overemphasised,” he said.

Critics claim that Nigeria’s efforts at targeting political corruption have stalled since President Umaru Yar’Adua came to power. They claim that Mr Baldry met the Nigerian President shortly before writing the letter. Mr Ibori is in Nigeria and faces arrest if he returns to the UK. He was regarded as a possible Nigerian presidential candidate until he was investigated for allegedly plundering state funds.

Scotland Yard said it can find no legitimate sources of income to “conceivably fund the wealth James Ibori now enjoys”. His salary as governor was £12,000 a year. Police statements in court also reveal that while living in the UK before becoming governor for Delta state, Mr Ibori was convicted of a dishonesty offence while working as a cashier for a DIY store.

Last month, a Nigerian judge dismissed 170 charges against Mr Ibori, dealing a severe blow to the reputation of the anti-corruption agency.

Mr Baldry denies interfering in the Ibori case. The MP, a barrister with a construction law practice, claims he was acting in his legal capacity and not a political one. “The letter that I wrote concerning Nigeria was entirely in my capacity as a barrister, properly instructed. I have taken no action whatsoever in this matter in my capacity as a Member of Parliament.” The letter was written on notepaper from his legal chambers. In the House of Commons register of members’ interests, Mr Baldry records that he was paid more than £37,000 by Sarosh Zaiwalla, a London-based solicitor who has acted for the Ibori family.

In 2000, Mr Baldry apologised to the House of Commons after being criticised for recommending that Mr Zaiwalla be made a CBE without revealing that he had just borrowed £5,000 from the lawyer. Mr Baldry admitted he had made an “error of judgement”. The Banbury MP has personal business interests in Africa and has taken a political interest in the region.

In 2005, he also apologised to the House of Commons after the committee on standards and privileges concluded that he failed to exercise sufficient care in distinguishing his public concerns as an MP from his private interests in relation to Sierra Leone. No comment was given by Mr Baldry yesterday.

Seems Banbury is far too small a pond for Mr Baldry that he has business and political interests in Africa.  Nice work if you can get it no doubt but hopefully the voters there will remember this fellows contribution to British (and African) Society next time it comes to vote.

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