Chief Ibeto: Lagos State Applies To Take Over Prosecution From EFCC, As Court Adjourns Till 15 April 

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Kemisola Oye 

A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has adjourned until 15 April 2024 hearing of applications of counsel involved in the case of a businessman, Chief Cletus Ibeto who is charged with Four Billion, Eight Hundred Million Naira (N4.800,000,000.00) alleged fraud.

When the case was called earlier today, Monday 11th March 2024, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr Babajide Martins, announced his appearance on behalf of the state Attorney-General as party intending to take over the case.

Justice Oyindamola Ogala adjourned until 15 April for her to thoroughly go through the case file and the various applications submitted by all parties to fully understand and stay abreast of the case.

Justice Ogala also ordered that parties should file and exchange responses before the next date of adjournment.

She said: “ I want to read the case file and understand it in full.

“As agreed by all, I want all of us to respond and to be on the same lane.

“Also, on the issue of representation by the DPP, the court wants the prosecution to respond to the application.

“The case is hereby adjourned until 15 April for hearing and further proceedings.”

The defence counsel, Mr Ade Oshodi had informed the court of a notice of preliminary objection dated 26 January 2024 which has not been heard by the court.

Mr Oshodi also informed the court that the application, which was filed by the former lawyer of the defendant, Mr Ikpeazu (SAN), be withdrawn as he had taken over the case and had filed a new application dated 26 January 2024.

He also said that Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN)  was the one who appealed the bench warrant issued against the defendant by Justice Ismail Ijelu on 3 November 2023.

According to him: “Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) appealed on the bench warrant. We are not in the matter going on at the appeal court.

“The learned silk is the one handling the appeal. We also wrote a petition to the office of the Attorney-General of Lagos State concerning this case.”

Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Rotimi Jacob (SAN) had informed the court that he was not served the hearing notice that the matter had been taken to another court and it was not a deliberate attempt not to appear before the court.

The court, however, held that there was an affidavit of proof of service on the prosecution.

Mr Jacob informed the court that several lawyers who had represented the defendant raised the issue of territorial jurisdiction.

“We were at the Court of Appeal on 15 January on the territorial jurisdiction. As of last week, the defendant has paid One Billion, Five Hundred Thousand Naira to the EFCC and he promised to conclude the payment in the next three months.

“The state said they are taking over the case but they have not even heard from us,” he said.

Mr Martins, in his response, said that from the point of law, DPP acted on the directive of the AG and that the prosecution has been served with the Amicus Brief filed by the office.

The Amicus Brief filed by the office of the AG dated and filed on the 29th of February, 2024 was to the effect that the court should strike out the matter for lacking both territorial and actual jurisdiction.

The  DPP does not need permission to swing into action.

“My lord, this is an everyday occurrence as people write to the office of the AG to take up matters and it does not mean that the AG  is taking sides with anyone.

“I am speaking from the point of law,” he said.

EFCC had filed a 10-count charge against Ibeto, alongside his company, Ibeto Energy Development Company, before Justice Ismail Ijelu.

The case file was, thereafter, reassigned to Justice Ogala.

 

Eighteen-Eleven Media 

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