N4.8 bn Fraud: Court Adjourns Ibeto’s Trial Over Jurisdiction

Chief Cletus Ibeto

Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Ikeja High Court of Lagos State, has adjourned the trial of the Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, Chief Cletus Ibeto, to await the verdict of the Appeal Court on an application challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

Justice Ogala adjourned the case to May 27, after the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), insisted that Ibeto’s lawyer, Adebayo Oshodi, can not move a similar application challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court without the presence of the defendant.

The EFCC had charged the businessman and his companies, Ibeto Energy Development Company and Odoh Holdings Ltd, before the court over an allegation of N4.8 billion fraud.

The anti-graft agency had filed a 10-count charge of conspiracy, fraud, forgery and fraudulent use of documents.

At the resumed hearing of the matter, Oshodi told the court that the defence had decided to withdraw two applications, one for a stay of proceedings and another one filed by Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), challenging the court’s powers to trial the defendants.

The judge then dismissed the application following no objection from the prosecutor. 

But the move by Oshodi to move a new application on jurisdiction was vehemently opposed by Jacobs (SAN), who insisted that the defendants have filed an appeal on the subject matter of the application. 

Besides, Jacobs (SAN) also insisted that the court could not entertain the application because the defendant had not submitted himself for trial.

The prosecutor also informed the court that the defendant, in his move for an out-of-court settlement of the matter, has repaid the commission a total of N2 billion in instalments.

After listening to both parties, Justice Ogala asked the defence counsel the location of his client, to which he answered “around the world” that he did not know his specific location.

The judge then held that she could not hear the defendant’s application when the same issue was pending before the appellate court.

The judge also held that it would be better for the court to await the appellate court’s verdict before taking further steps in the trial.

The defendant has not yet appeared before the court to enter his plea.

Meanwhile, hearing of the appeal filed by the defendant at the Court of Appeal has been fixed for May 7, 2024.