Former Delta state governor James Ibori has been released, despite attempts by the home secretary to detain him in prison.
He was due for release on Tuesday, having agreed to be deported after serving half of his 13-year sentence.
But it has now emerged that the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd did not intend to deport Ibori to Nigeria until he handed over £18m of “proceeds of crime”.
A High Court judge said attempts to detain him were “quite extraordinary”.
Ordering Ibori to be immediately freed from prison, Mrs Justice May said: “You don’t hold someone just because it is convenient to do so and without plans to deport them.”
‘Misuse of powers’
A Home Office application that Ibori be electronically tagged and subject to strict curfew conditions was also rejected after the judge accepted arguments that the home secretary was attempting to misuse her immigration and deportation powers.
Ibori, a former London DIY store cashier, was jailed for fraud totalling nearly £50m in April 2012.
He evaded capture in Nigeria after a mob of supporters attacked police but was arrested in Dubai in 2010 and extradited to the UK – where he was prosecuted based on evidence from the Metropolitan Police.
On Wednesday, the Home Office’s barrister said the government was concerned that Ibori might “frustrate confiscation proceedings” and wanted him kept in jail or subject to strict controls on his movement.
[BREAKING] Former Delta State Gov. James Ibori released from British Prison (PHOTOS)