The former footballer testified to the convicted ex-governor’s good character before a UK court

A former Wimbledon and Aston Villa star and member of the Nigerian Football Federation, John Fashanu, on Tuesday made a shocking appearance at the sentencing of the former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, in a Southwark Crown court.

Fashanu, who is currently an ambassador of the Nigerian Federal Government for Sports and Tourism, told the court that Ibori brought “unprecedented” sports development to the oil-rich Delta State with the construction of several sporting facilities within the state during his tenure as governor.

Fashanu, who claimed to have known Ibori for over 20 years, told the court that Ibori set up a shooting range and a golf course in the state, as well as nine mini sports stadia in several parts of the state.

The 48-year-old was not done on the sporting achievements of Ibori, and told the court that he also constructed three Olympic and FIFA registered sports stadia in the State.

“Within the federal capital it was unprecedented for these types of stadia to be built in eight years,” Fashanu told the court.

“Today there is only one governor of one state who has been able to build and construct stadia like James Ibori has done. Today, we can say that athletics people in Delta State are some of the best in Africa.”

The embattled ex-governor was accused of embezzlement and money laundering.

John Fashanu himself has not been without controversy. He was accused of match fixing in 1994 along with Liverpool keeper, Bruce Grobbelaar and Hans Segers but was cleared three years later.

In 2003, he was at the centre of another controversy after he was caught on secret camera vaunting about his ability to bribe players and goalkeepers. He later denied it, stating that he was only “playing along” with the undercover reporters.

Ibori has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Sylvester Awenlimobor

Sly is a social commentator who resides in Lagos and currently works as a relationship manager for a financial institution.

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