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Nigerian Court Rejects Bail for Ex-Governor

A court in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna has rejected the bail application of James Ibori, a former governor of one of Nigeria's richest oil states. Gilbert da Costa reports some militant groups in Nigeria's Niger Delta are threatening fresh attacks on the oil industry over his arrest.

Former governor James Ibori is expected to remain in prison until next year, after his application for bail was rejected Monday. Ibori who is facing a string of charges related to corruption, money laundering and abuse of office may have been disappointed with the outcome given the fact that all five former governors charged before him were granted bail by the courts.

The court's decision was announced as militant groups threatened to wage a fresh onslaught on the country's troubled oil industry, beginning this week, if the former governor was not released.

A journalist in Delta state, Emma Amaize, says people in the region are divided over the trial.

"It depends on which side of the divide one is for," said Amaize. "Those who feel he committed fraud, they want him tried. For those who may have benefited one way or the other from him in the past. They would want the government to relax its clampdown on him."

Nigeria's 36 state governors are very powerful by virtue of their discretionary power over public funds and immunity from prosecution while in office.

Former governor Ibori was charged last Thursday with embezzling more than $85 million and trying to bribe police with $15 million in cash to stop investigating him.

Ibori was a main sponsor of President Umaru YarAdua in last April's disputed elections, which makes his case an important measure of how serious the new president is about cracking down on graft in one of the world's most corrupt countries.

Another former state governor who turned himself in to police after more than a year on the run was expected in court on Monday.