Dozzy Oil Vs Ibeto land tussle: Ibeto not on trial! lawyer laments
Law & Order

Dozzy Oil Vs Ibeto land tussle: Ibeto not on trial! lawyer laments

…says Ibeto merely in court to give witness in the suit

As Chief Cletus Ibeto, the Chief Executive Officer(CEO)of the Ibeto Group, who is the star witness in the land tussle between his companies and Dozzy Oil concludes his evidence in chief, his lead counsel, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu(SAN)has lamented that he is not on trial, but merely in court to give witness in the suit.

Dr Ikpeazu(SAN) had at the resumed hearing of the matter at a Portharcourt High Court presided over by Hon Justice A.Enebeli urged the court to caution journalists covering te proceedings to note that Chief Ibeto was not in the “dock”, but “in the witness box”, as he was not on trial.

That the business mogul who is claimant in the suit was only in the box to give evidence. And that he was not in any way on trial. 

Consequently the court charged all journalists covering the proceedings to be guided properly while doing their duty.

During the proceeding, Chief Emmanuel Ukala, counsel to Dozzy Oil and Gas Ltd, asked Chief Ibeto, ” you tendered exhibit 15 and 16 with which you said you purchased the land from Ndoama community sometime in 2007.

You also tended Exhibit 24; show the court where it was stated in the Rivers State Government panel”s report that the land will revert back to the original owners. He instead stated that he aware of the government panel’s recommendations before he purchased the land. That it was reason he specifically wrote the state government seeking clarifications, and they replied asking him to proceed with the purchase. But he resisted a direct reference on the issue of whether any part of the panel’s recommendation specified that the land should revert back to the owners.

This posture elicited a ding dong argument between him and Chief Ukala(SAN), counsel to Dozzy Oil. He refused to acknowledge the absence or otherwise of the clause that the land will revert back to the owners.

The judge then intervened for counsel to put it to Ibeto that no part of the recommendations said that the land will revert to original owners. Consequently Ibeto requested for time to read through the documents after he proceedings. But he was informed it has to be at the moment. 

So the court magnanimously granted him some minutes break to enable him go through the documents. But at the resumption of proceedings Chief Ibeto stated that he was authorized by the State government to proceed to purchase the land.

But Ukala(SAN)asked whether he was aware of a Special state government gazette that listed all the lands that were revoked by the Graham Douglas Committee. Ibeto said no, that the land in question measured 20.7 hectares.

Counsel to Dozzy Oil, Ukala(SAN) asked him, you acknowledged being aware the land was revoked in 2001, yet went back in 2010/2017 to buy from them. Ibeto said that those who want to sell approached him and he bought.  

Another area of intense disagreement was on the issue of $3million which chief Ibeto insisted that he did not borrow it from Dozzy Oil and Gas boss, Chief Daniel Chukwudozie. That instead it was sold to him and he paid the Naira equivalent. Again, when the second S3million was mention, he quickly said there was no such transaction.

But Ukala(SAN) insisted that it was the second S3million that added up the amount in dispute to N4billion for the land. And that there was a dispute with the conversion rate. Ibeto said he sincerely know the actual calculation being thrown up.

He added, “my Lord am under oath. What am saying is true. There was no second S3million. Am happy the counsel(Ukala) know me very well.”

Ibeto also acknowledged receiving the letter from the state government dated March 5,2018 requesting him to return the Certified True Copy of the documents relating to the land, that its certification was in error. He said he didn’t return the documents because there was nothing wrong with it. But when taken up on whether he got any letter from the Ministry that the letter they wrote was in error or fake. He said he didn’t receive any such letter.

It was also discovered that Ibeto had engaged a private surveyor instead a government surveyor and could have been why the approval was withdrawn.

Ibeto said he was not interested in that, insisting that the surveyor must not be working in the Surveyor General’s office. That if he (names withheld) was not approved, the Surveyor General’s office would not have registered him

Ibeto was also intimated that Rivers State Inland Revenue has written to deny issuing most of the documents you presented.

It was also discovered that payments of fifty naira for stamp duty receipts for multimillion naira transactions done in 2017 were only paid on Jan 26,2023 without any penalty payment.

Ibeto was also asked if he was aware that Rivers State committees said that he do not own the lands he was selling.

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