N4.8bn Fraud: EFCC, Dozzy Oil Urge Court To Dismiss Ibeto Rights Suit

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has urged a Rivers State High court sitting in Port Harcourt to dismiss a fundamental human rights suit filed by the Chairman of Ibeto Cement, Cletus Ibeto against it and a businessman, Chief Daniel Chukwudozie.

Ibeto had dragged the EFCC and Chief Chukwudozie before the court through a Fundamental Rights Enforcement Suit, seeking to prevent the anti-graft agency from investigating allegations of fraud bordering on obtaining by false pretence the sum of N4.8 billion, forgery and criminal breach of trust brought against him by Dozzy Oil and Gas Limited.

He is asking the court to declare that his harassment by the respondents is unlawful, that the court restrains the EFCC from arresting him and order them to pay him N500 million damages for his unconstitutional arrest.

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But in his response to the suit, the EFCC urged the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.

The Commission submitted that the invitation and interview of the Applicant by its officers is quite lawful because there is a petition against him which alleges the commission of an economic and financial crime.

The anti-graft agency alleged that investigation has unequivocally linked the Applicant with the commission of the offences of obtaining money under false pretences and forgery.

It also urged the court to refuse the prayer of the Applicant for a perpetual injunction to restrain the EFCC because this would amount to the court lending itself as a shield against the investigation and possible prosecution of the Applicant for alleged criminal infractions.

The EFCC claimed that its investigation has sufficiently linked the Applicant with the commission of the alleged offences, “in other words, a Prima Facie case has been made out against him.”

In his preliminary objection to the suit, Chief Chukwudozie urged the court to dismiss the suit because the court lacks the jurisdiction to hear it.

The businessman maintained that the alleged infringement of the Applicant’s fundamental right occurred in Abuja and not in River State, so it is only a court sitting in Abuja that can entertain the matter.

He further explained that sometimes in 2017, the applicant’s company Ibeto Energy Development Limited entered into a land sale agreement with Dozzy Oil & Gas Ltd as a result of which Dozzy Oil & Gas Ltd paid a total sum of N4,801,000,000.00 inclusive of the debt of $3,000,000.00 earlier owed to Dozzy Oil & Gas Ltd.

Chief Chukwudozie also alleged that it turned out that the land does not belong to Ibeto Energy Development Limited and the documents of title presented to Dozzy Oil & Gas Ltd by the applicant and his companies are not genuine but fake and forged prompting.

He stated that this made him write a petition to the EFCC, to investigate the allegations against the Applicant and his companies.

Justice Boma Diepiri has adjourned the matter till April 12 for the hearing of all pending applications.

14th April 2024
Nigerian Pantagraph