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Court adjourns business mogul, Ibeto’s trial until May 27

An Ikeja High Court has adjourned the trial of Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, Chief Cletus Ibeto who was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged N4.8 billion fraud, until May 27.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Oyindamola Ogala adjourned further hearing in the suit pending the Court of Appeal judgment in an appeal filed by Ibeto on the ruling of by Justice Ismail Ijelu of Ikeja High Court.

The judge had issued bench warrant against the businessman pending arraignment.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, Ibeto filed an appeal through Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), challenging the jurisdiction of the high court to hear the matter.

When the case was called on Monday, the Defence Counsel, Mr Adebayo Oshodi prayed the court to withdraw the application for stayed of proceeding pending appeal and the one challenging court jurisdiction which was earlier filed by Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN).

Oshodi also told court that he had filed notice of preliminary objection dated January 26, challenging the jurisdiction and prayed the court to allow him move the application.

However, the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs , SAN, opposed the application on the grounds that Ibeto had filed an appeal on same issue before the Lagos Division of Court of Appeal, adding that the appellate was yet to decide on it.

Jacobs cited the provision of section 274 of Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) 2021 and argued that the court could not entertain the application because the defendant had not submitted himself for trial.

The prosecutor also informed the court that the defendant in his move for out of court settlement, had repaid the commission a total sum of N2 billion in installments.

After listening to the both parties, Ogala ruled that hearing the defendant’s application would amount to nothing because the same issue was currently pending before the appellate court.

She said that it would be to better for the court to await Court of Appeal’s verdict on the matter before taking any further step on on the trial.

“There is nothing stopping me to hear it in a hurry but the defendant is not here.

“The court of appeal will sit on it.

“I will not waste time writing ruling while the case is still pending in Appeal Court and if there is nothing in court of appeal, I would have hear the application,” the judge said.

NAN reports that EFCC had filed a 10-count charge of conspiracy, fraud, forgery and fraudulent use of documents against the defendant and he has not appear before the court to take his plea.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal has fixed May 7 for hearing of the appeal.

Ogala thereafter adjourned to May 27 and directed that the parties to notify the court on the outcome of appeal court.

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