The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is expected to Arraign the Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, Cletus Ibeto, before the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja over an alleged N4.8 billion fraud.
The trial judge, Justice Ismail Ijelu, had on November 3, 2023, ordered the Arrest of the businessman for allegedly refusing to appear in court for his fraud trial.
The EFCC had charged the defendant alongside his companies, Ibeto Energy Development Company and Odoh Holdings Ltd, before the court on a 10-count charge bordering on allegations of conspiracy, fraud, forgery and fraudulent use of documents.
The defendant had failed to appear before the court three times; he was, however, represented by his lawyers, who told the judge that their client was absent due to ill health.
At the court’s last sitting, Justice Ijelu had held that the lawyer, Dada Awosika, who represented the defendant during the proceeding, did not adduce any compelling reason for him to grant his request for an adjournment.
The judge further stated that the court did not exist for frivolities as it only existed for dispensing justice.
“The defence counsel decided to waste the court’s time. The court is the symbol of the state and not an object of ridicule.
“In the absence of any cogent excuse to produce the defendant for arraignment, a bench warrant is now issued against the defendant,” the court ruled.
Justice Ijelu then adjourned the matter to November 15 for the defendant’s arraignment.
Count 1 of the charge says that Chief Cletus Ibeto, Ibeto Energy Development Ltd and Odoh Holdings Ltd between June 2016 & May 2017 within the jurisdiction of the court by false pretence and with intent to defraud, obtained from Dozzy Oil & Gas Ltd and Sir Daniel Chukwudozie, the sum of N4.8bn purporting same to be consideration for 22.6536 Hectares of land which he claimed to have at the end of Reclamation Road Layout, Port Harcourt, Rivers State by a deed of sublease executed by Odoh Holdings and. into Energy Development Ltd when he only had 7.9 hectares of the said land.
Count two states that the defendants obtained N2.5bn from their victim as consideration for a non-existent 14.1 hectares of land, while count three claims that they forged certain documents.
In Count 3, the defendants, on or about January 30, 2018, allegedly with intent to defraud, forged a Deed Of Sublease between Odoh Holdings Ltd and Ibeto Development Ltd purportedly, registered as No 47, Page 47, Vol. 280 of the Lands Registry, Rivers State wherein they claimed that Odoh Holdings Ltd acquired the leasehold interest in respect of 22.6536
The offences contradict Section 1 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act 2006, Section 365(3d) and (e), and Section 366 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
The offence carries a punishment of no less than seven years and no more than 20 years imprisonment without the option of a fine.