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Contractor floors KAMWIRE at Ilorin High Court over alleged #66m contract fraud

Celebration erupts at the Kwara state High court as a contractor, Orafiri Ibiabuo finally secured his freedom from his over two years illegal detention in Mandala correctional service custody after the judgement was given by the court sitting in Ilorin recently.
This was according to the judgement delivered by Honourable Justice Adenike Akinpelu on the matter whereby Ibiabuo and his engineering company, Ibiere Engineering limited were standing trial for.
They were arrested for allegedly defrauding an Ilorin based company, Proforte steel products limited, a sister company of Kam industries Nigeria Limited owned by popular industrialist, Dr Kamoru Yusuf to the tune of #66,075,600.
The Ibiabuo who was arrested in 2020 was said to have been been contracted to tow a jack up Rig named Elizabeth ‘C’ (Pride Cabinda) belonging to Proforte Steel Products Limited from its location to Sapele Jetty in Delta State but was unable to deliver.
The defendant claimed that attempts to salvage the Rig was abortive when the sling wire from his vessel attached to the Rig snapped damaging his own vessel in the process, adding that the Rig had sunk and was sitting at the seabed.
He also said that in January of 2020 while his vessel was undergoing repair and he was making several efforts to salvage the sinking Rig, he learnt that his vessel along with other crew members were arrested by the Nigerian Navy therefore he couldn’t meet up with the obligation of moving the Rig.
Ibiabuo who was represented by Barrister Adeleye Smith testified further that due to the global standstill caused by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the seizure of his vessel by the Nigerian Navy it was apparent that he wouldn’t be able to deliver.
He thereafter wrote to Proforte notifying them about the challenges and his willingness to refund the money paid to him after which he transferred #10,000,000 promising to continue the repayment after the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
Ibiabuo further denied the allegation of collecting money under false pretences, noting that he has been in the business for over 15 years and that his vessel itself was worth over #180 million therefore, he has no reason to abscond.
He alleged that the complainant, Proforte didn’t follow their agreement of business which states they had to first explore arbitration before seeking legal redress of need arises.
He added that a clause in the agreement relating to the applicability of Force Majeure under which the Covid-19 pandemic falls under was completely ignored by the complainant before going to the police.
The defense counsel, Barrister Adeleye Smith told the court that the from the prosecution led by Barrister Issa Zakari from the ministry of Justice,kwara state has not been able to prove that his client, Ibiabuo and his company are guilty of the charges leveled against them.
In her judgement, Justice Akinpelu agreed with Barrister Smith ruling that the prosecution team has failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt that defendant is truly guilty of all the four count charges, noting that, “they are hereby discharged and acquitted in respect of all the offence in issue.”.
In other part of her remark, the Honourable judge faulted the Police for allowing the matter which she said to be a civil matter metamorphosed into a criminal case resulting in irreparable damage damage on the defendants.
She said, “I think it is important for the police who receive complaints to be able to decipher between civil complaints relating to breach of contract and case of Advance fee fraud to advise the complainants appropriately.”

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