N4.8bn fraud: New judge takes over Ibeto’s trial, fixes March 11 for continuation

Chief Judge (CJ) of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba has reassigned the charge against the Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, Chief Cletus Ibeto, and two over alleged N4.8 billion fraud to Justice Oyindamola Ogala .

Justice Alogba reassigned the defendants’ case file following the petition against Justice Ismail Ijelu who earlier presided over the case by Ibeto and others.

However, when the case resumed before the new trial judge, Justice Ogala on Friday, neither the prosecution, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) nor the defendants was present in court.

Read Also: Alleged N4.8bn Fraud: Judge Returns Ibeto’s Case File To Chief Judge

When court’s registrar called the case, Adebayo Shittu announced appearance for all the defendants, Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr. Babajide Martins announced his as interested party in the matter.

Dr. Martin said his appearance in the matter as interested party was based on Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution and the petition written by defendants asking the State’s Attorney General to take over the case.

The trial judge after hearing from the defendants’ counsel and DPP, Dr. Martins said the trial couldn’t proceed due to the absence of the prosecution, EFCC.

Justice Ogala told the parties present that the case would be adjourn and hearing notice would be served on the prosecution, EFCC to appear on the next adjourn date.

Subsequently, the trial adjourned further hearing in the trial till March 11. 2024.

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

Other defendants apart from Chief Ibeto are Ibeto Energy Development Company and Odoh Holdings Ltd.

The planned arraignment of the defendant has been stalled on three occasions, September 28, 2023 October 5, 2023 and November 3, 2023 due to his failure to appear in court, although his lawyers represented him.

This prompted the former trial judge, Justice Ijelu to accede to the prosecution’s request on November 3, 2023, to order the arrest of the businessman for allegedly refusing to appear to take his plea despite many undertakings by his lawyers to produce him in court.

17th April 2024
Nigerian Pantagraph