A Federal High Court in Abuja has sentenced two fake land agents, Adebayo O. Falade and Apata Francis, to three years imprisonment for N3.5million fraud.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo convicted the duo of obtaining the sum from the complainant, Mrs Tosin Ajisafe Aluko, by false pretence.
The defendants, in May 2015, falsely presented themselves as owners and persons capable of selling a property at the stadium area of Ado Ekiti, but they had already sold the property in question to someone else.
The judge observed that the “defendants went on a spending spree as soon as they received alerts. They bought vehicles and completed building that was yet to be completed before the payments into their accounts.”
He held that the Police successfully proved the two counts of conspiracy and fraud against the duo beyond reasonable doubt.
Justice Taiwo held: “The defendants are therefore sentenced to three years each without option of fine with regards to Count 1. The defendants are also sentenced to three years each with regards to Count 2 without option of fine.
“The three years are to run concurrently. I also order restitution as stated earlier in favour of the victim of the crime. All monies in the account of the defendants shall be applied to offset the said sum of N3.5million. If money is inadequate, the movable and immovable assets of the defendants shall be jointly and/or severally sold to offset the total amount fraudulently collected from the victim. This is the judgement of the court.”
The judgment followed a nearly four-year proceedings and was delayed by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The defendants were arraigned before Justice Taiwo on February 5, 2016, at the Ado-Ekiti division of the FHC.
Both men pleaded not guilty. The judge granted them bail February 8, 2016 and trial commenced on 26th January 2016.
The prosecution closed it’s case on the 3rd of May 2017. The 1st defendant closed his case on the 23rd of April, 2018, while the 2nd defendant closed his case on 27th May 2019.
The court adjourned for judgment till January 15, 2020 “but due to pressure of work by the judex in Abuja, the court had to defer to another day.”
The court then fixed February 20, 2020, for judgment, but it could also not do so on this date.
Explaining why, Justice Taiwo said: “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the whole judicial system all over the country had to shut down like other arms of government and the society at large. When there was partial resumption and the courts were conducting cases virtually, criminal matters and indeed judgements pursuant to them could not be done virtually and the reason is obvious.
“The security situation in the country also contributed to the delay in delivering this judgment especially with the spate of abductions and kidnappings.
“Hence, a more auspicious time had to be created for judgment to be delivered in this matter, since the judex now sits in Abuja.”