Business News

Ibeto’s N48.8 billion fraud arraignment stalled by nationwide strike  

Nigerian businessman Cletus Ibeto, the Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, faced another setback in his legal proceedings.

The nationwide strike led by labour unions disrupted his scheduled arraignment at the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, on Wednesday. 

Initially, the trial judge, Justice Ismail Ijelu, had set November 15, 2023, for Ibeto’s arraignment following the issuance of a bench warrant on November 3, consequent to a motion moved by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).  

The motion to issue a bench warrant for Ibeto was triggered by his persistent non-appearance in court, despite being served with multiple hearing notices. 

However, the prevailing strike action thwarted the anticipated court hearing for Ibeto’s case on Wednesday.

The entrance to the court premises was reportedly barricaded by the striking workers’ union, causing a further delay in the legal proceedings against the accused. 

Facing charges from the EFCC related to an alleged N4.8 billion fraud, Ibeto, along with his companies, Ibeto Energy Development Company and Odoh Holdings Limited, is accused of conspiracy, fraud, forgery, and fraudulent use of documents in a 10-count charge. 

The defendant’s arraignment had previously been rescheduled on September 28, October 5, and November 3, 2023, owing to his consistent failure to appear in court, with legal representation standing on his behalf. 

Although the NLC has since suspended the strike action in the early hours of the night, confirmation regarding the court’s next steps for the pre-scheduled arraignment is still pending. 

More about Ibeto 

Cletus Ibeto, a prominent Nigerian entrepreneur, manufacturer, and philanthropist, serves as the founder and Chairman of Ibeto Group, the largest conglomerate in the Eastern part of Nigeria. 

He founded Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Ltd, a pivotal player in the production of diverse chemical-related goods and oil lubricants for both domestic and international markets in October 2, 1996.

Renowned as Nigeria’s premier liquid storage facility for petroleum products, it boasts a substantial capacity of approximately 60,000 metric tonnes situated at Apapa Wharf and Ibru Jetty Complex in Lagos. 

In a strategic move, Ibeto Cement disclosed a reverse merger with Century Petroleum Corporation, a publicly traded U.S.-based petroleum exploration and production company, in May 2018.

This strategic manoeuvre streamlined the listing process, propelling the company onto the global stage. Cletus Ibeto assumed the role of Chairman of the new Board of Directors, underscoring the company’s ambitions for international expansion and market presence. 

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