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Alleged N4.8bn fraud: Court adjourns Cletus Ibeto’s case till Apr 15

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Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday,  March 11, 2024 adjourned the alleged N4.8 billion fraud brought against a businessman, Chief Cletus Ibeto, till April 15, 2024.

The case, which was initially before Justice I.O. Ijelu, of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, suffered several adjournments due to the absence of the defendant to take his plea with respect to the 10-count charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,  EFCC. He was charged alongside his companies, Ibeto Energy Development Company and Odoh Holdings Ltd.

Justice Ijelu had on November 3, 2023 declared Ibeto wanted, based on an application moved by counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN. He also issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

However, when the case came up on January 29, 2024, the court informed all parties involved that the case file had been returned to the Chief Judge of the State High Court.

Thereafter, the case file was re-assigned to Justice Ogala.

At the resumed hearing before Justice Ogala, on Monday, Dr. Babajide Martins,  who had also appeared during one of the sittings before Justice Ijelu, announced appearance for the Lagos State Attorney General as a party that intended to take over the case.

Defence counsel, Ade Oshodi, informed the court of a notice of preliminary objection dated January 26, 2024, “which has not been heard by the court”.   He prayed the court that the other application filed by Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, former counsel for the defendant in the matter, when it was before Justice Ijelu be withdrawn as he had now taken over the case and had filed the new application dated January 26, 2024.

He further informed the court that Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, had appealed the bench warrant issued against the defendant by Justice Ijelu.

“We are not involved in the matter going on at the appeal court, but we wrote a petition to the office of the Attorney-General of Lagos State concerning this case,” he said.

In his response, Jacobs informed the court that different lawyers represented the defendant when the case was before Justice Ijelu, and they raised the issue of “territorial jurisdiction.”   “We were at the Court of Appeal on January 15 on the issue of territorial jurisdiction, and as at last week, the defendant has paid N1.5 billion to EFCC and he promised to conclude the payment in the next three months,” he said.

On the appearance of the state counsel in the matter, Jacobs noted that “though they said they are taking over the case, they have not even heard from us.”

After listening to all the parties, Justice Ogala adjourned till April 15, 2024 to enable her go through the case file and the various applications submitted by all the parties. The judge also ordered all parties to the matter to file and exchange responses before the adjourned date.

“As agreed by all, I want all of us to respond and to be on the same lane,” she said.

Crime

Kano arson: Tinubu orders prosecution of suspects

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President Bola Tinubu has condemned the arson incident at a mosque at Larabar Abasawa in Gezawa local government area of Kano State.

The incident which occurred last week resulted in the death of over 23 worshippers.

President Tinubu in a statement issued by his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, on Tuesday in Abuja sent his condolences to the government and people of Kano State over the fire incident.

The President commiserated with the bereaved families, all those affected, and prayed for quick recovery for the wounded.

A spokesman for the Kano State Police Command, Abdullahi Kiyawa, said preliminary forensic analysis showed that the explosion was suspected to be caused by petrol.

The injured, including 20 adult males and four male children, were transported to Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital for treatment.

“The scene was cordoned off, and the victims were rushed to the hospital where they are currently receiving medical care,” Kiyawa added.

The principal suspect, identified as 38-year-old Shafi’u Abubakar, has been arrested.

In his statement to the police, the suspect cited a prolonged family dispute over inheritance as his motive.

“He said his action was purely in hostility following a prolonged family disagreement over sharing of inheritance, and he did that for his voice to be heard,” Kiyawa reported.

“The suspect is currently in police custody, and a detailed investigation is ongoing,” he said.

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Benue: Police parade suspected kidnappers, uncover fraud academy

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By Titus Atondu, Makurdi

Benue State command of the Nigeria Police under the able watch of the new commissioner of Police CP. Hassan Steve Yabanet FCID ps has arrested and paraded kidnappers.

CP Yabanet performed the parading ceremony at the command headquarters during a maiden press briefing in Makurdi, explaining that they received information about the kidnappers’ hideout located at welfare quarters, Makurdi.

A team of police detectives were detailed to the area to trail and arrest suspects.

Upon arrival of the police at the scene, the kidnappers engaged them in a gun duel but were overpowered by the police superior fire power that led to the arrest of one Michael Dickson Orinya ‘m’ 19yrs, Ebia Omirigwe ‘m’ 25yrs and Ejeh Miriam ‘f’ 21yrs all of various addresses in Otukpo. One of the suspects sustained a gunshot injury and was rushed to Benue State University Teaching Hospital where he was confirmed dead and corpse deposited at the hospital.

Items recovered from them according to the commissioner of Police at the scene include; one AK-47 rifle loaded with fifteen rounds of live ammunition, seven Point of Sale (POS) machines and one hundred and fifty (150) ATM cards of different banks while investigation is ongoing and would soon be charged to Court.

Relatedly, following information received by the police about a fraud academy and operations of Internet fraudsters in Makurdi, at Jerome Hwande Street Akpa-Quarters, Makurdi, police detectives were detailed to investigate the case. On 14/5/2024 at about 0600hrs the following suspects were arrested at the house; one Terpase Luke Denmodi ‘m’ 23yrs and Avalumun Ayangekaa Dominic ‘m’ 24yrs. Items recovered from them include; seven (7) Hp laptops, one (1) Apple note, one (1) Canon printer, fifteen (15) notes of Ghana cedis, two international passports, assorted clothes among other items.

 Suspects confessed to the crime stating that most of their victims are foreigners and they have students that are usually trained in the fraud business at the house. Trainees share proceeds of fraud with them as they go out to practice. Investigation is ongoing to crack down the network of fraudsters in Benue State and would soon be charged to Court after investigation.

The new police Commissioner also revealed that  has taken time to tour part of the state and have a direct assessment of the security situation in the state.

According to him,  the tour has brought about reforms that are already yielding results as evident in what is happening in the State.

“I have been able to redeploy officers to areas where they will function better and have mapped out strategies and flash points where police attention is extremely required. Some of the areas where attention has been paid to are, dismantling of illegal road blocks, strengthening the Anti-Cyber crime and Anti-Kidnapping units as well as on-going operations to clamp down on bandits in several local government areas,” Yabanet revealed.

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Crime

Customs impounds donkey bones, meat worth N3bn DPV in one month

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By Austine Emmanuel, Kaduna

The Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS) Federal Operation Unit, (FOU) Zone “B” Kaduna state said that it has impounded consignments of donkey bones and donkey meat with a combined Duty Paid Value, (DPV) of about three billion naira from April 17th to May 17th 2024.

This is as the Unit disclosed that a truck conveying 750 sacks of donkey bones estimated at two billion, three hundred and sixty three million, five hundred thousand naira, (2,363,500, 000) including two canter trucks carrying dried donkey meat was intercepted along Kontagora-Tegina road, Niger state.

Briefing Journalists in Kaduna on Tuesday, the Comptroller FoU Zone “B” Kaduna, Comptroller Ahmadu Bello Shuaibu lamented over the attitude of persons with no regard for the lives and preservation of endangered species such as donkeys, adding that such illegal trading contravenes Section 55 (1) paragraph c and i (1) of the NCS Act 2023.

He expressed worry that donkeys and other animals are already near extinction and the Nigerian government, being a signatory to the international convention for the continued prevention of endangering these species will not allow such menace thrive in the Nigerian society.

The Comptroller further revealed that the unit intercepted a vehicle along Sokoto/Gusau road in Zamfara state, conveying illicit goods, while seizures of 58,740 sachets of tramadol and 48,000 ampules of Anelgin injection was made on 2nd May, 2024 along Saminaka/Nimbiya/Kafanchan axis of Kaduna state.

Others seizures within the period under review include, 12 vehicles (means of conveyance) 174 Bags of Foreign Rice, (50 kg each) 234 Jerry cans of PMS, (25 litres each) 109 bales of second hand clothing, 367 cartons of Spaghetti, 50 cartons of Macaroni, 47 Jerry cans of foreign vegetable oil, 6 sacks of used shoes, 100 sacks of snuff, 30 bags of foreign sugar, (25kg each) 2,255 cartons of herbicide chemical, 10 cartons of foreign couscous, 235 Bags of Foreign flour, (25kg each) and Over 100 cartons of general goods.

He said, “The above illegal trading clearly contravenes Section 55 (1) paragraph c and i (1) of the NCS Act 2023 which says that Import and Exports shall where applicable be subject to prohibitions and restrictions relating to: (c) The protection of the health and life of humans, animals, or plants; (i) Controlled goods imported or exported in line with relevant International laws, conventions and agreements (1) relevant International laws, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

“Government is concerned that donkeys are part of rare animals that are being driven towards extinction by activities of unscrupulous elements, and Nigeria is signatory to the international convention for the continued prevention of endangering these species. Therefore, the Unit and indeed the Nigeria Customs Service will not and cannot fold its hand and allow this illegal trade to continue to take place.

“Anti-smuggling initiative is fast going beyond old traditional physical measures, the NCS has sharpened its skill in intelligence gathering through improved information technology kits. The era of exclusively mounting checkpoint is long gone, as our Enforcement Unit is up to date in the deployment of ICT assisted intelligence gathering and strategies to achieve our mandate.

“The success we are showcasing today is therefore a demonstration of our collective determination to continue to carry out our duty with undivided attention, and without fear or favour.

“Those who wish to try our resolve should have a rethink as we shall be unsparing in implementing the laws and policy directives of the Federal Government as directed by the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR and his management team.”

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