Describe suit as a distraction
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Chairman of Dozzy Oil and Gas LTD, Sir Daniel Chukwudozie, (have) asked a Rivers State High Court to dismiss a suit filed by the Chairman of Ibeto Group, Chief Cletus Ibeto seeking to stop the EFCC from investigating him over an alleged ₦4.8 Billion fraud.
In a Suit marked PHC/268/FHR/2022, Ibeto is praying the court to stop the EFCC from investigating allegations of fraud bordering on obtaining by false pretence the sum of N4.8 billion, forgery and criminal breach of trust leveled against him by Dozzy Oil and Gas Limited.
Ibeto had filed an originating motion on notice, praying the court to declare that EFCC lacks powers to interfere on land disputes.
He also prayed the court to declare his alleged harassment by the commission unlawful and to restrain it from arresting him and to also order the commission to pay him five hundred million naira damages for depriving him of his fundamental human rights as a Nigerian citizen.
When the case came up for hearing, counsel to the EFCC, Simon Ibekwute drew the court’s attention to his Preliminary Objection filed on February 21, 2022, saying that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit in Rivers State because the alleged infringement of the applicant’s fundamental human rights occurred in Abuja.
*The EFCC’s counsel also filed a motion for extension of time as his processes filed was not within the time limit as provided by law.
Dozzy oil’s boss counsel, Okey Obikeze also informed the court that he filed a preliminary objection to counter Ibeto’s motion.
Responding, Henry Bello, who stood for Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN the Lead Counsel to Ibeto told the court that he was yet to file his reply to the preliminary objection by the EFCC.
After hearing EFCC’s motion for extension of time which was not opposed by counsel to Ibeto and Chukwudozie, and following the submissions by all the counsel on the matter, the trial Judge, Justice Boma Diepiri adjourned hearing on the motions and counter motions by all parties to April 12, 2022 and directed them to file all their processes before the adjourned date in order to enable the court hear the matter and possibly fix a date for judgement.
Chief Ibeto was invited by the EFCC to produce documents to support his claim that he is the owner of the parcel of lands measuring 20.293 hectares which he sold to the Chairman of Dozzy Oil and Gas LTD, Sir Daniel Chukwudozie. However, after allegedly failing to provide the documents, he approached the High Court in Portharcourt to determine the legality of his invitation by the EFCC.
According to court documents obtained, Dozzy Oil boss, Chief Chukwudozie alleged that he was approached by Chief Ibeto to purchase a parcel of land situated at Reclamation Layout Phase 2 Port Harcourt, but only to discover that the said property did not belong to the claimant (Ibeto) and his companies.
Commenting on the matter after the court’s sitting, Chukwudozi’s Counsel, Obikeze, said that the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Suit filed by Ibeto was aimed at diverting attention from the ₦4.8Billion fraud allegation leveled against him. According to him, the case is a trick by the applicant to evade arrest and prosecution by the EFCC.
“The issue here is that Chief Ibeto defrauded Chief Chukwudozie of ₦4.8billion under the guise of selling a parcel of land containing an area approximately 20.293 hectares situated at Bundu Ama Community to him in 2017.”
He further said that Chukwudozie wrote a petition to the EFCC alleging that Ibeto obtained from him the sum of ₦4.8 billion under false pretense when he purportedly sold to him the parcel of land in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He also accused Ibeto of fraudulent conversion of property, criminal breach of trust, forgery and deception. He also stated that Ibeto refused to refund his money to him when he asked him to do so and that he was left with no other option than to ask the EFCC to intervene. Obikeze further said that Chief Chukwudozie in his petition to the EFCC, also claimed that Ibeto had offered to sell his company’s property situated at NITECO Shipyard Area, Reclamation Layout Phase 11, Port Harcourt Rivers State to him.
“Chief Ibeto the Chairman of the Ibeto Group and our Client who is also the Executive Chairman of Dozzy Oil and Gas Ltd, (Sir Daniel Chukwudozie) had a fraternal relationship spanning over thirty years such that the N4.8 Billion paid over this transaction were paid to the accounts designated by Chief Ibeto on trust prior to his availing our client with the title documents of the subject property because of their existing relationship as close friends and confidants.
“We state that after a full reconciliation of the disbursements, our client discovered that he has made a total transfer of the sum of Four Billion, Eight Hundred and One million Naira (N4.801,000,000) to Chief Ibeto’s designated accounts including an outstanding 3 million US Dollars debt which Chief Ibeto owed our client that was by the agreement by the parties applied as further payment on this transaction before Chief Ibeto availed him with copies of their/his title documents to the property registered as No 45/45/280 and No 47/47/280 in the Lands Registry Office, Port Harcourt to enable it conduct a search of the property amongst other due diligence.
“Consequent upon the search certain discrepancies in the title document of Ibeto were observed at the Lands Registry notably;
• The subject property originally belonged to the Rivers State Government which subsequently leased the same to the original lessor, Nigeria Technical Company Limited (NITECO). By law, any subsequent Survey of the property must emanate from the office of the Surveyor General of Rivers State. Meanwhile, the Survey plans attached to the documents given to our client were signed by private Surveyors without any evidence of the consent of the State’s Surveyor General.
• That the size of the land contained in the habendum clause of the Deed of Sub Lease registered as No. 46/47/280 at the Lands Registry Office given to our client by Chief Ibeto is 78,756.914 Square Meters approximately 40 acres while the purported attached survey plan No TC/RV066/2007 attached to the same Deed of Sub Lease and in the schedule is 226,536.357 Square meters or 22.653.36 hectares.
• That Ibeto cannot validly lay claim to more than 40 acres of land from the grant of Shipbuilders Limited, their head sub-leasee. Meanwhile they contrived documents purportedly showing ownership of 226,537.257 meters or 23.63536 hectares to our client without proving the root/basis of how they came about such acquisition.
“We also state that our client had by letter dated April 20th,2021 demanded for an explanation of the trickery committed against him, and as well demanded the refund of his funds. But rather than render valid and cogent explanation to our client, Ibeto Energy and it’s Chairman remained obdurate, glossing over clearly established and unlawful infractions contained in the letter and seeking to justify the indefensible by claiming they bought the subject land from multiple sources namely Nigeria Shipbuilders Limited and unnamed surrounding communities while fronting a single title deed for properties allegedly bought from different entities that ought to have different ownership title documents.”