Court suspends bench warrant orders made against Ibeto

Given the progress made outside of court, the appellant moved to suspend or revoke the bench warrant issued against Chief Ibeto in January.

The Court of Appeal in Lagos has postponed the hearing of Cletus Ibeto’s appeal against the Lagos State High Court’s jurisdiction to try him for an alleged N4.8 billion fraud until September 19.

This delay awaits the outcome of negotiations between Ibeto and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ibeto, the Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, faced a warrant for his arrest issued by Justice Ismail Ijelu for repeatedly failing to appear in court despite multiple notices.

The EFCC had charged Ibeto and his companies, Ibeto Energy Development Company and Odoh Holdings Ltd, with conspiracy, fraud, forgery, and fraudulent use of documents.

The defendant, discontented with the court’s ruling and its dismissal of his preliminary objection, lodged an appeal with the Appeal Court, outlining seven reasons for his appeal.

During the recent court session, Justice Mustapha and other panel members, Abdullahi Mahmud Bayero and Paul Bassi, halted the execution of the bench warrant issued on November 3, 2023, against the Appellant by Justice Ismail Ijelu.

This suspension came after Ibeto’s attorney, Chief Wole Olanipekun, and the EFCC’s counsel, Adebisi Adeniyi, informed the court of ongoing settlement discussions and the defendant’s reimbursement of approximately N1.7 billion to the Commission.

Adeniyi stated that the appellant has complied with the settlement proposal, leading the EFCC to reconsider the necessity of proceeding with the appeal.

Furthermore, Adeniyi indicated that the case had restarted before another lower court judge, rendering the appeal moot. As evidence of the settlement and the case’s progress, the anti-graft agency submitted an affidavit to the court.

Chief Olanipekun, representing one of the parties involved, confirmed that they’re resolving the issue according to a Rivers State High Court decision.

He appealed to the court to revoke the bench warrant against his client, as the Appeal Court has yet to take up the case.

In a brief ruling, Justice Mustapha decided to halt the warrant’s enforcement, stating that it wouldn’t be fair to keep it active while negotiations are ongoing.

He suspended the warrant and encouraged both parties to continue discussions until the next scheduled date in September.

Chief Olanipekun, a seasoned legal expert, argued that his client’s appeal addresses constitutional jurisdictional issues, which need to be resolved before any prosecution.

He confidently asserted that his client’s presence in court is optional for addressing jurisdictional matters, which are already ripe for consideration.

The appellant urged the Court of Appeal to revoke the arrest warrant and dismiss the case at the lower court. The original judgment from the Port Harcourt High Court, demanding Chief Ibeto to refund a deposit and maintain his land without further trespass, was brought before the Lagos State Court of Appeal, resulting in the suspension of all bench warrants against Chief Ibeto.

Uche Obi (SAN) highlighted significant progress in Chief Ibeto’s compliance with the Port Harcourt High Court’s judgment, stating that Chief Ibeto has willingly agreed to adhere to the judgment’s terms and has already begun the process of refunding the deposit.

Consequently, over N2 billion has been successfully refunded, demonstrating Chief Ibeto’s commitment to the court’s decision.

With the appeal hearing set for May 7, the court couldn’t proceed after hearing from both parties, considering that negotiations were ongoing.

Given the progress made outside of court, the appellant moved to suspend or revoke the bench warrant issued against Chief Ibeto in January.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Generated by Feedzy
× How can I help you?