The Lagos State High Court in Ikeja has issued an arrest warrant for Cletus Ibeto, the Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, over his failure to appear in court for his alleged involvement in a N4.8 billion fraud case. Justice Ismail Ijelu ordered the arrest following a motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), who argued that Ibeto had consistently ignored court summons.
The EFCC has accused Ibeto and his companies, including Odoh Holdings Limited, of conspiracy, fraud, forgery, and the fraudulent use of documents. Despite being scheduled for arraignment on September 28 and October 5, 2023, Ibeto’s absence was noted, with his legal representation citing ill health as the reason. However, promises to present him in court were unfulfilled.
On the latest court date, another of Ibeto’s lawyers, Daniel Awosika (SAN), reiterated the sickness claim, which Jacobs contested, suggesting that Ibeto was in Lagos and could have been arrested if the court had granted permission. Justice Ijelu, expressing dissatisfaction with the defence’s lack of a compelling reason for adjournment, emphasized the court’s duty to dispense justice and not entertain frivolities.
The judge’s issuance of the bench warrant reflects a firm stance against perceived disrespect to the judicial process. The case has been adjourned to November 15, 2023, for Ibeto’s arraignment.
The judiciary’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Cletus Ibeto is a bold statement against impunity and a reaffirmation of the rule of law. It is imperative that individuals, regardless of their status, are held accountable and are not above the law. The court’s frustration with the repeated non-appearance of the accused underscores the need for all parties to respect the legal process and its institutions.
We advocate for a legal system where justice is not only done but seen to be done. The evasion of court appearances by individuals charged with serious offences undermines public confidence in the legal system. The enforcement of court orders must be swift and effective to maintain the integrity of the judiciary.
The EFCC’s role in diligently pursuing cases of economic and financial crimes is commendable. We support their efforts to combat corruption and financial malfeasance, which are detrimental to the nation’s development. The legal pursuit of such cases must be relentless and devoid of undue delay.
Did You Know?
- The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established in 2003 and is tasked with investigating financial crimes such as advance fee fraud (419 fraud) and money laundering.
- Nigeria ranks high among countries working to improve transparency and reduce corruption, with various reforms and agencies in place to tackle these issues.
- The Lagos State High Court is known for handling some of the most high-profile legal cases in Nigeria, reflecting the state’s status as a commercial hub.
- Arrest warrants are a legal mechanism used worldwide to compel the appearance of an accused person in court.
- The fight against corruption in Nigeria has gained international attention, with the country making significant strides in recent years.