…May Lose About N66.7 Fraud Claim Against Defendant

By Wole Adedeji, Ilorin

The Ilorin Division of the Federal Court of Appeal has turned down the request of a multi-billionaire, Alhaji (Dr.) Kamoru Yusuf to jail his contractor who he accused of alleged defrauding him of millions of naira.

The appellate court upheld the earlier judgement of the lower High Court, which equally threw out the charges of inducing and defrauding the rich man to the tune of about N66.7 million for a contract to tow a sunk rig from the high seas at Calabar waters to Sapele, in Delta State.

The multi billionaire, through his two companies – Kam Industries Limited and its subsidiary, Proforte Steel Limited had caused his contrator; Orafiri Ibuabuo and his company – Ibiere Engineering Limited to be arrested by the police and charged to court on a four-count charge bordering on inducement and fraud.

They were charged for allegedly inducing the Ilorin multi-billionaire and his companies to pay the sum of N66.07 million to tow a jark-up rig, named Elizabeth ‘C’ (Pride Cabinda) that was stucked on the high seas in Calabar waters to a jetty in Sapele, Delta State.

The other three counts bothered on the same purpose, leading to the payments of sums of money in tranches in addition to the initial payments and this was because the contracts allegedly failed, due to unforeseen hitches that were natural.

It was said that along the line, COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant lock down in 2020 also came in.

During hearing at the lower court, it was said that there was an agreement between the parties, which included approaching ‘Arbitration for Amicable Settlement’ in the event of a breach of any term on either side; and that it also contained a principle of ‘force majeure’ that should prevail on such occasions, which the multi-billionaire and his companies allegedly ignored.

The court was told that Orafiri Ibuabuo, because of the matter, was detained for upwards of two years at the instance of the prosecution.

His lawyer, A.T Smith, Esq, had argued in court that his client neither defrauded Dr. Yusuf nor his companies, but rather, was updating him and his companies of the hitches while toying the sunk rig on the Calabar waters.

He added that neither did he breached any part of the agreement between him and his client.

The Port Harcourt harcourt marine engineer and his company – Ibiere Engineering Limited – were however discharged and acquitted of all the four-count charges against them by the Ilorin High Court which heard the case at the time, a decision which the Appeal Court also upheld at the weekend.

The High Court presiding judge; Hon. Justice A.O Akinpelu, had in her judgement said, “The sole issue for determination is answered in the negative against the prosecution, and in favour of the defendants. The prosecution, having failed to prove beyond reasonable doubts the four counts in this case, the two defendants are found not guilty of all the charges.

Accordingly, they are discharged and acquitted of all the offences in issue.”

Also, judgement on the appeal, which was before Justices Tunde O. Awodoye, Bitrus Gyanazama Zango and Kenneth Ikechukwu Amadi, and was decided at weekend, upheld in its entirety, the positions of the lower court.

The judgement, read on behalf of the three justices by Justice Amadi said the respondents in the case; – Orafiri Ibuabuo and his company – Ibiere Engineering Limited “were discharged and acquitted of all the four count charges against them.”


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