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Court adjourn Cletus Ibeto’s alleged N4.8bn fraud trial to May

By Joe Udo

Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday, 15th April 2024, adjourned the alleged N4.8 billion fraud brought against a businessman, Chief Cletus Ibeto, till 27 May 2024.

The matter, which was initially before Justice I.O. Ijelu, of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, suffered several adjournments due to the absence of the defendant to take his plea with respect to the 10-count charges raised against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

He was charged alongside his companies, Ibeto Energy Development Company and Odoh Holdings Ltd.

Ibeto had approached the appellate court, following the bench warrant issued against him by Justice Ijelu pending his arraignment. The defendant, through his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, had also approached the appellate court, challenging the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear the matter.

At the resumed sitting on Monday, defence counsel, Adebayo Oshodi, prayed the court to withdraw the application for stay of proceedings, pending the determination of the appeal and the one challenging the court’s jurisdiction filed by Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN.

He also told the court that he had filed a notice of preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the court, and prayed the court to allow him to move the application.

However, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob, SAN, opposed the application on the grounds that the defendant had filed an appeal on the same issue before the Lagos Division of Court of Appeal. He also told the court that the appellate court had yet to decide on it.

READ ALSO: EFCC slams Betta Edu, Sadiya, Halima over N32.7bn, $445,000 recovered from Humanitarian Ministry

He also informed the court that the defendant, in his bid for an out-of-court settlement, had repaid the sum of N2 billion in instalments to the Commission.

After listening to both parties, 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 further held “There is nothing to sway me to hear it in a hurry. The defendant is not here. The court of appeal will sit on it. I will not waste time writing a ruling, while the case is still pending at the Appeal Court. If there was nothing in the Court of Appeal, I would have heard the application.”

Consequently, Justice Ogala adjourned the matter till 27th May 2024.

The Judge further directed the parties to notify the Court of the outcome of the appeal, which has been fixed for 7th May 2024, at the appellate court.

Joe Udo
Joe Udo
Joe Udo is a creative writer and a Blogger with several years of experience.

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