The attempt to settle out of court, the allegation of fraud between Chief Cletus Ibeto of Ibeto Energy Development Company Limited; the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Dozzy Oil & Gas Limited has hit the rocks.
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday of the case at the Port Harcourt High Court, presided over by Justice Boma Diepiri, the counsel for Chief Cletus Ibeto and Dozzy Oil & Gas Limited, Henry Bello and Okey Obikeze informed the court that settlement could not be reached between the parties.
The matter was subsequently adjourned to July 11, 2022, for a further report on the settlement.
Recall that Dozzy Oil & Gas Limited had through its solicitors, Messrs Anthony Stephens & Associates, written a petition on a case of obtaining by false pretence, fraudulent conversion of property, criminal breach of trust, forgery and deception against Chief Cletus Ibeto and his group of companies, Ibeto Energy Development Company Limited and Odoh Holdings Limited.
Dozzy, had in the petition to the EFCC alleged that Chief Cletus Ibeto, a close friend of the executive chairman on the basis of which it dealt on trust with him, offered to sell his company’s property situated at NITECO Shipyard Area, Reclamation II Layout, Port Harcourt, Rivers State to Dozzy and had collected an advance deposit of N4,800,000,000 from the company.
He said this was done before the company carried out due diligence searches at the Lands Registry office in Port Harcourt, wherein it discovered that the portion of land which Chief Ibeto sought to sell to it did not belong to him or his companies, but to Nigeria Technical Company Limited (NITECO).
The company, in its petition, stated that while Ibeto had by a Deed of Sub-lease registered as No. 48/48/280 in the Lands Registry office in Port Harcourt been granted a sub-lease of 7.8 acres of land by Odoh Holdings Limited, which had an earlier grant from Nigeria Shipbuilders Limited, a subsidiary of NITECO, he offered 20 hectares of land to Dozzy when it can only lay legitimate claim to 7.8 acres even at that; the said 7.8 acres of land was not part of the portion Chief Ibeto sought to sell to it.
The company further alleged that the copy of Ibeto’s title deeds that it gave to it was different from the counterpart copy in the Port Harcourt Lands Registry when it carried out its searches.
The company equally alleged that the Rivers State Government ground rent receipts given to it by Chief Ibeto as further evidence of its title to the land, purportedly issued by the Rivers State Inland Revenue Service, was forged, a claim corroborated by the EFCC in its counter-affidavit deposed to by Mohammed Bala, one of the investigating officers in EFCC’s opposition to the fundamental rights enforcement suit.
EFCC had in the counter affidavit stated that its investigation which extended to the Rivers State Inland Revenue Service raised a strong case of forgery against Chief Cletus Ibeto as the River State Inland Revenue Service denied authorship of the revenue collectors receipt given to Dozzy by Chief Cletus Ibeto.
After several failed appointments, Ibeto honoured EFCC’s invitations on January 27, 2022, and after making his written statement to the EFCC had his appointment rescheduled to enable him to produce his title documents to the subject property, which he claimed to own.
However, the accused person approached the Port Harcourt High Court to file the present suit for the enforcement of his fundamental rights and injunction to restrain the EFCC from investigating the allegations of fraud made against him.
The defence counsel, Henry Bello, had at the last hearing requested for adjournment of the suit to enable the parties to explore the settlement which has failed.