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April 15, 2024

Alleged N4.8bn fraud: Court awaits A’Court verdict for Ibeto’s application on jurisdiction

Alleged N4.8bn fraud: Court awaits A’Court verdict for Ibeto’s application on jurisdiction

Judicial symbol for justice

By Prince Okafor

Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja has adjourned the trial of the Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, Chief Cletus Ibeto who was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged N4.8 billion fraud, till May 27, 2024.

The judge fixed the date for further hearing in the case, due to the defendant’s counsel, Adedayo Oshodi prayer to move an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the charge.

However, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob opposed the application on the ground that the defendant had filed an appeal on the same issue before the Court of Appeal and the appellate is yet to decide on it.

Besides, Jacob also insisted that the court could not entertain the application because the defendant has not submitted himself for trial, however, Oshodi argued that the presence of the Defendants is not necessary in view of the pending application.

After listening to both parties, the trial judge, Justice Ogala ruled that hearing the defendant’s application would amount to nothing because the same issue is currently pending before the appellate court.

The judge held that it would be to better for the court to await the Court of Appeal’s verdict on the matter before taking any further steps on on the matter.

The EFCC had charged the defendants before the court on a 10-count charge of conspiracy, fraud, forgery, and fraudulent use of documents.

However, the defendant is yet to appear before the court to take his plea having challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.

Recall that the state high court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has given a Judgement on the same issue. In a judgment delivered on March 29, 2023, the State High Court declared Ibeto Energy Development Ltd as the rightful owner of the land. The court further ruled that since Sir Chukwudozie Daniel of Dozzy Oil did not complete the payment of the land in dispute, Chief Ibeto should make a refund of the money to him.

Being dissatisfied with the decision, Sir Daniel Chukwudozie and his companies lodged an appeal at the Court of Appeal Port Harcourt Division. While the case was pending, Sir Daniel Chukwudozie filed a petition with the EFCC in Lagos to turn a failed civil land transaction into a criminal case. A case that is already pending in the appeal court in Port Harcourt. This led to a charge being brought against Chief Dr. Cletus Ibeto in Charge No. ID/2149/23 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chief Cletus Ibeto. This is the basis of the jurisdictional objection filed by Chief Cletus Ibeto pending before the high court of Lagos in the criminal charge.