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The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, adjourned the hearing of the appeal filed by the Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, Cletus Ibeto till September 16, 2024.

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

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

On November 3, 2023, Justice Ijelu declared Ibeto wanted based on the application moved by counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN. The judge also issued a bench warrant for Ibeto’s arrest.

When the case came up for hearing on January 29, 2024, the court informed all parties involved that the case file had been returned to the Chief Judge of the State High Court. Thereafter, the case file was re-assigned to Justice Oyindamola Ogala.

Ibeto had approached the appellate court , following the bench warrant issued against him by Justice Ijelu pending his arraignment. He had also approached the appellate court to challenge the jurisdiction of the Lagos State High Court to try him for the alleged N4.8 billion fraud.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, the appellate court presided over by Justice Muhammed Mustapha adjourned the appeal pending the report of the ongoing negotiations between the EFCC and the defendant. Also, Justice Mustapha and other panel members, Justice Abdullahi Mahmud Bayero and Justice Paul Bassi, suspended the enforcement of the bench warrant issued on November 3, 2023, against the appellant by Justice Ijelu.

The suspension came, following the submissions by Ibeto’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, and counsel to the EFCC, Adebisi Adeniyi, who informed the court that the parties were in the process of settling the matter and that the appellant had refunded about N1.7 billion to the Commission. During the proceedings, Olanipekun also urged the court to set aside the bench warrant against his client.

In a short ruling, Justice Mustapha held that “The bench warrant is now suspended, and we encourage parties to continue with the negotiations until the next adjourned date of September 16.”


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