Alleged N4.8bn Fraud: Ibeto Has Paid Back N2.25bn, EFCC Tells Court

The EFCC had filed a 10-count charge of conspiracy, fraud, forgery and fraudulent use of documents against the businessman and his companies.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday told Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja that the Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, Cletus Ibeto, has paid back the sum of N2.250bn to the Commission.

The EFCC made this claim through its lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rotimi Jacobs, at the ongoing trial of Ibeto and his companies, Ibeto Energy Development Company and Odoh Holdings Ltd, over an alleged N4.8 billion fraud.

The EFCC had filed a 10-count charge of conspiracy, fraud, forgery and fraudulent use of documents against the businessman and his companies.

However, the planned arraignment of the defendant has been stalled on at least seven occasions owing to his failure to appear in court, although he was represented by his lawyers.

At the proceedings today, Jacobs also informed Justice Ogala that the anti-graft agency is now in a dilemma because the defendant has refused to appear before the court but chooses instead to come to the Commission’s office to negotiate on how to settle his indebtedness.

Jacobs said, “We need to know what their plans are. Are they planning to continue with the litigation, or do they want to sit with the prosecution and complainant to negotiate an out-of-court settlement?

“He has paid back a large part of the money, and we need to know whether we should use it as an exhibit or consider it his commitment to an out-of-court settlement because they have continued to file different applications challenging the court’s competence to hear the matter.

The defence counsel, Adebayo Oshodi, did not respond to the EFCC’s claims but sought the leave of the court to relist an application challenging the court’s territorial jurisdiction, which he had voluntarily withdrawn at the last sitting of the court.

This move was opposed by Jacobs, who argued that since the application was withdrawn at the instance of the defence team and then struck out by the court, it could not be relisted before the same court.

Justice Ogala, in her intervention, agreed with Jacobs. She said that the counsel voluntarily withdrew the application, and she did not believe the same could be relisted.

The judge also frowned at the action of the defendant, who refused to appear before the court but continued to appear before the anti graft agency to pay back the money he was accused of obtaining from the complainant.

Justice Ogala said that she would not comment on the move by the prosecution and the defence to settle the matter out of court as she was only focused on the case before her.

After being informed by the lawyers that the appeal challenging the court’s jurisdiction before the Court of Appeal is still pending, Justice Ogala adjourned the case to October 24 for further hearing.

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