The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has disclosed that billionaire businessman and Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, Cletus Ibeto, who is facing charges of N4.8 billion in alleged fraud, is requesting to settle out of court.
The EFCC pressed charges against Ibeto, as well as his companies, Ibeto Energy Development Company and Odoh Holdings Ltd, with 10 counts relating to conspiracy, fraud, forgery, and fraudulent use of documents.
However, Ibeto has not appeared before the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja for his arraignment.
On November 3, 2023, Justice Ismail Ijelu issued an arrest order against Ibeto after he missed four court appearances to enter his plea, despite receiving multiple hearing notices.
In response, the defendant appealed to the Court of Appeal to nullify the arrest warrant issued by the court.
During the latest appeal hearing, Ibeto’s legal representative, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), along with two other Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Uche Obi (SAN) and Bode Olanipekun (SAN), indicated readiness to proceed with the appeal hearing.
However, counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), informed the court of serious indications from both parties to settle the matter amicably outside of court. He suggested giving a chance to such an initiative instead of proceeding immediately with the hearing of the case.
“Ibeto has approached the EFCC seeking to enter a plea bargain arrangement and has also stated that he would pay back the money he obtained from the nominal complainant, Daniel Chukwudozie,” Jacobs said.
Following this development, the three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, chaired by Justice Muhammed Mustapha, adjourned the case until May 7, 2024, for the hearing of interlocutory applications and the main appeal. The other panel members include Justice Folashade Ojo and Justice Abdullahi Bayero.