Where money and the lust to acquire it towers above every human ethic, contentment fails and honour sinks into the gallows of grime and dishonour. In the squalor, many a man have been known to ditch the subtle nudge of reason to immerse in the dark, smelly waters of lust and illicit commerce.
You could be forgiven for thinking Cletus Ibeto, chairman of the Ibeto Group, is one such man. As you read the accounts of the billionaire magnate have been frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged fraud.
It is an open secret that Ibeto was recently invited by the EFCC over his alleged role in the scandalous arms procurement deals. Bank accounts belonging to the business mogul who presides over one of Africa’s largest business enterprises was subsequently frozen by the EFCC in the course of the investigations.
Until his decent into infamy, Ibeto was one of Nigeria’s most prominent and revered businessmen. Born on November 6, 1952, Ibeto hailed from the industrial city of Nnewi, a city unique for its entrepreneurial spirit. The Ibeto Group under his leadership was a pacesetter in the region and the nation’s trading and later manufacturing development.
Ibeto started out as a spare parts import dealer, after spending some time as an apprentice in the motor parts business, a gradual step taken by many eastern traders. In March 1988, he stopped direct importation of lead acid automotive battery and plastic motor accessories after completing his factory in Nnewi. By 1995, The Ibeto Group had become one of the largest auto spare parts manufacturing outfits in the country by dint of his perseverance and hardwork.
On October 2, 1996, he established Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Ltd. which is engaged in the blending of oil lubricants as well as the production of various types of petroleum products for local and international markets. The company owns the largest liquid storage facilities for petroleum products in Nigeria with a capacity of over 60,000 metric tons located at Apapa Wharf and Ibru Jetty Complex, Lagos. In 2008, Ibeto received the national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) from the Federal Republic of Nigeria for his outstanding contributions to the country through his manufacturing enterprise. Four years later, in 2012 to be precise, he was awarded the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), for his continued outstanding service to the nation.
His recent brush with the EFCC is no doubt a sad commentary on his touted patriotism and contributions to industry. It will be recalled that Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo recently alleged that around $15 billion — equal to about half the country’s foreign currency reserves — was stolen from Nigeria’s public purse under the previous government of Goodluck Jonathan through fraudulent arms procurement deals. Had Ibeto known, he would have distanced himself from the bazaar and subsequent scandal.
Cletus M. Ibeto is a Nigerian businessman from the industrial city of Nnewi. He is head of The Ibeto Group, the largest business enterprise from Nnewi, a city unique for its entrepreneurial spirit.