__Also included in the charge was another company linked to Ibeto, Odoh Holdings Ltd.
The scheduled arraignment of businessman, Chief Cletus Ibeto, alongside his company, Ibeto Energy Development Company, before the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja was stalled today owing to the absence of the defendants in court.
Ibeto and his company are facing a 10-count charge bordering on allegations of obtaining by false pretenses, fraudulent conversion of property, criminal breach of trust, forgery and deception brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Also included in the charge was another company linked to Ibeto, Odoh Holdings Ltd.
At the proceedings on Thursday, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rotimi Jacob announced an appearance for the EFCC while another Senior Advocate, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, represented the defendants who were all absent in court.
Ikpeazu reminded the court that the defendant was ill and this was the reason for his absence at the last sitting of the court.
This time, he told the court that the defence team was considering a plea bargain with the prosecution and the process was ongoing. He asked for a short adjournment to enable them to conclude.
The prosecutor, Jacobs reminded the judge that the case was adjourned at the last proceeding due to the absence of defendants. He, however, agreed that the parties could explore out-of-court settlements if the defendants were serious and committed to the process.
After listening to the parties, the trial judge, Justice Ismail Ijelu, frowned at the approach of the defendants. He noted that the court had adjourned the case thrice at the instance of the defendants.
The judge wondered why the defendants had refused to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the court and make themselves available to take their plea.
The defence counsel was however quick to assure the judge that his client’s absence was not out of disregard for the court.
Following the agreement of all parties, the court further adjourned the case till November 3, for the arraignment of the defendants.
Count 1 of the charge says that Chief Cletus Ibeto, Ibeto Energy Development Ltd and Odoh Holdings Ltd between June 2016 & May 2017 within the jurisdiction of the court by false pretence and with intent to defraud, obtained from Dozzy Oil & Gas Ltd and Sir Daniel Chukwudozie, the sum of N4.8bn purporting same to be consideration for 22.6536 Hectares of land which he claimed to have at the end of Reclamation Road Layout, Port Harcourt, Rivers State by a deed of sublease executed by Odoh Holdings and Ibeto Energy Development Ltd when he only had 7.9 hectares of the said land.
Count 2 states that the defendants obtained N2.5bn from their victim as consideration for a non-existent 14.1 hectares of land while count 3 claims that they forged certain documents.
In Count 3, the defendants on or about 30th Jan, 2018, with intent to defraud forged a Deed Of Sublease between Odoh Holdings Ltd and Ibeto Development Ltd purportedly registered as No 47, Page 47, Vol. 280 of the Lands Registry, Rivers State wherein they claimed that Odoh Holdings Ltd acquired the leasehold interest in respect of 22.6536
The offences are contrary to Section 1 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act 2006, Section 365(3d) & (e) & 366 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
If convicted the offence carries a punishment of not less than 7 years and not more than 20 years imprisonment without the option of a fine.