The Lagos State High Court, sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, has issued a bench warrant for the arrest of businessman Cletus Ibeto who failed to appear in court for his arraignment over an alleged N4.8bn fraud.
A statement by Dele Oyewale, Head of Media and Publicity, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said Justice I.O. Ijelu gave the warrant on Friday.
The judge had, on October 5, 2023, adjourned till November 3, 2023, the arraignment of Ibeto alongside Ibeto Energy Development Company and Odoh Holdings on 10-count charges bordering on obtaining by false pretences, fraudulent conversion of property, criminal breach of trust, forgery, and deception, following an application and appeal by his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu.
Mr Ikpeazu, while seeking an adjournment, had told the court that: “The law is not a respecter of any person. I am of the firm view that this is a matter that can be resolved, and if given some time.”
The defence counsel further told the court that he had no medical report with him in court to explain the absence of the defendant, adding that the issue at stake was one that could be resolved between the complainant and the defendants.
Responding, prosecution counsel Rotimi Jacobs said though plea bargaining was encouraged even in criminal matters, “the EFCC gave them the opportunity to go and resolve their differences, but they did not seize the opportunity, even before the charges were filed.
“There should be an arraignment first before the court will assume jurisdiction to do anything”, he said.