Ibeto vs EFCC: Out of court settlement failed woefully

Ibeto vs EFCC: Out of court settlement failed woefully

From Tony John, Port Harcourt

The counsel to Mr Daniel Chukwudozie and Dozzy Oil and Gas Limited, Mr Okey Obikeze, in a fundamental human rights case by Mr. Cletus Ibeto, on Tuesday, told the High Court of Rivers State in Port Harcourt, that efforts to settle matter out of court have failed woefully.

The applicant  (Ibeto) had filed a fundamental human  rights suit against Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Daniel Chukwudozie and Dozzy Oil and Gas Limited, seeking the court to prevent the anti-graft agency from investigating allegations of fraud bordering on obtaining by false pretence the sum of N4.8 billion forgery and criminal breach of trust brought against him by Dozzy Oil and Gas Limited.

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The matter filed by the applicant in Suit No. PHC/268/FHR/2022, also prayed the court to declare the alleged harassment on him unlawful, declare that EFCC is not empowered to tackle contract matters.

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At the resumed hearing, I Mboho, who announced  holding brief for Onyechi Ikpeazu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), counsel for the applicant, told  the court that negotiation for out-of-court-settlement was ongoing.

Mboho urged the court for more time to conclude the settlement by parties in the matter.

Obikeze, counsel for the second respondent, countered the applicant’s counsel’s position, and informed the court that the out-of-court-settlement could not be reached between the parties.

Obikeze said that after the parties in the case had met and the attempt to settlement was not fruitful, they (parties) agreed that the settlement had failed.

He went further to say that the parties agreed that they should return and inform  the court accordingly, so that a new date could be given for the matter to proceed.

He orally applied that the court should adopt their processes to commence hearing on the matter.

The trial judge, Justice Boma Diepiri, after listening to the submissions of both counsels, agreed on a short date for the parties to return and brief the court on their final decision.

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The matter was subsequently adjourned till July 11, for report of settlement.

It was observed that counsel for EFCC was not present in court during hearing on the matter.

Second respondent’s counsel Obikeze, who spoke outside courtroom, explained that the settlement plan was not fruitful and his client was ready for the case.

“The matter was adjourned for report of settlement because previously, parties agreed to be allowed to go and see if they can settle between themselves peacefully. But, parties’ settlement has failed woefully,” he said.

“Our duty is to report back to the court and when the matter was called today, surprisingly, counsel for the applicant announced to the court that settlement is still ongoing which to me is not the true position.

“On my own part, I informed the court that parties have met, but have agreed that settlement have failed. That we should come and inform the court accordingly and the court will then give us date for the matter to proceed.

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“From what the applicant’s counsel has done today, gives the impression that right from time, their intention was not settle but to buy time.

“We met twice and at the first meeting we agreed to meet again. But, at the second meeting, there was no agreement to meet again because the settlement has failed.”

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