Ibeto has returned N1.5bn in alleged N4.8bn fraud case, EFCC tells court

Cletus Ibeto
Cletus Ibeto

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday said businessman Cletus Ibeto has paid back N1.5 billion in two tranches in respect of the N4.8 billion fraud allegations for which he was charged before the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

The defendants, Ibeto and his companies, Ibeto Energy Development Company and Odoh Holdings Ltd, are facing a 10-count charge bordering on allegations of conspiracy, fraud, forgery and fraudulent use of documents.

EFCC’s counsel Rotimi Jacobs also told Justice Oyindamola Ogala that Ibeto paid the money as part of the ongoing plea bargain discussion between the anti-graft agency and the defendants.

The senior counsel also said that the defendants have agreed to pay the balance within the next three months.

Counsel to the defendants Adebayo Oshodi did not deny or confirm these claims.

The case could however not go on Monday owing to the arguments between the prosecution and the defence on which application is due for hearing.

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While Oshodi insisted that the defendants’ application challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court should be heard by the court, Jacobs argued that the court could not entertain the application because the issues canvassed in it are also the same issues the defendants have placed before the Court of Appeal for determination.

The EFCC counsel also drew the court’s attention to an order issued by the former Judge, Justice Ismail Ijelu, who presided over the case before it was transferred to Justice Ogala, ordering the arrest of Ibeto.

He said that the order was predicated on the alleged refusal of the defendants to appear in court and until the order is vacated, or the defendant shows up in court to take his plea, the judge cannot hear any application.

Lagos State director of public prosecution (DPP) Babajide Martins, who appeared in the matter as an interested party, also told the court that he had filed an Amicus Curiae brief to assist the judge in deciding on what action to take on the case.

After listening to all the parties, Justice Ogala adjourned the case till April 15 to enable her study the case file and decide on how to proceed with the trial.